Tips on giving medical care

Often a patient has several people who can act as carers. They can be live-in carers, part-time carers or even long-distance carers. If many different carers can help it’s a good idea to meet as a group to discuss how they can help from the start.

Remember your loved one will know what care they need and want. Don’t forget to include them in the meeting, either by getting their views beforehand or having them present at the discussion.

As a carer, it’s important to realise your limits from the start.

Speak with your loved one and other family members and friends. Try to share out the caring responsibilities fairly. Some carers may have less time to offer if they have a full-time job or young children, for example. Be kind to each other and try to be flexible and supportive of each other.

Remember, it’s normal for everyone to give care in their own way. The important thing is that you are all there because you care about your loved one.

Giving medical care

There are many ways to get involved in the medical care of a family member or loved one. Medical care can include:

  • Giving nursing care
  • Managing and giving medications
  • Managing side-effects
  • Accompanying your family member or loved one to their appointments
  • Reporting problems to the medical team

Tips on giving medical care

Educate yourself

Try to learn about your loved one’s cancer and treatment and become familiar with the medical terms that the doctors and nurses use. We have a range of booklets and leaflets on different types of cancers, treatments and side effects. For free copies, call our Cancer Nurseline on 1800 200 700, visit a Daffodil Centre, or download them from our publications section.

Write down questions

Once you have read about the cancer, write down any questions you might have. Discuss them with your loved one, health care professionals and other carers. Sit down with your loved one before each appointment and write down any particular questions they might have.

The Journey Journal is a special diary where you can  record the important information that you receive during appointments. You can note appointment times, test results, cancer care team contact details, treatment details and support services information. It can be used for all types and stages of cancer. For a free copy, call our Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700, visit a Daffodil Centre or download it here.

Attend appointments

Appointments often involve results of tests and treatment decisions. They can make the patient very anxious. For this reason, try to attend appointments with your family member or loved one. Bring a notebook so you can ask your questions and note the answers. This will help you share information with the rest of the family, or friends. afterwards.

Ask for advice

Ask the hospital doctors and nurses for advice on how to care for your loved one. Make sure you are clear on any medication they need to take - what is it for, when do they take it (before or after meals, for example) and what is the dose? If they need dressings for wounds, injections or other medical care, the nurses can advise you on what to do or where to go.

If you feel comfortable, the nurses will teach you how to give medical care. If not, they will explain what services are available in the community. For example, the family GP or public health nurse.

Find out who’s who

Keep a record of important names and phone numbers. There is a special section for this in the Journey Journal. Ask the nurses to give you telephone numbers to call in case you need to ask a question between appointments. Also write down who to call if your loved one becomes unwell at home.

Managing symptoms and side-effects

If your loved one is having a symptom or side-effect of their treatment, speak to the nurses and doctors in the hospital. You can also speak to a cancer nurse by calling our Cancer Nurseline on Freephone 1800 200 700 or by visiting a Daffodil Centre. We have several useful useful booklets on subjects such as cancer symptoms, treatments and side-effects, which you might find useful.

For a free copy of any of these booklets, ring our Cancer Nurseline, pick up a copy from a Daffodil Centre or download them from our publications section.

Nursing care

As a carer, you may also have to help nurse your loved one in some ways. For example, if they are very tired, you may help them to wash or get dressed. It’s important to ask your family member or loved one what help they would like. They know best and may not be comfortable with intimate contact. You can also hire a nurse or carer to give care in your loved one’s home.

Find out more

Visit our caring for someone with cancer section for more information on all aspects of caring.

Date Last Reviewed: 
Friday, November 25, 2016