Caregiving through a Designer’s Lens – Lekshmy Parameswaran

“Each and every one of you will at some point in your lifetime become a caregiver to a loved one close to you. Today the experience of caregiving is far from ideal and as a designer, I believe it can be better. It’s time to redesign caregiving!”

Lekshmy Parameswaran is a designer who has been working in healthcare innovation for 20 years. She studies and redesigns systems to make the interactions people have with care systems better. During her projects, she also personally experienced caregiving, when her father-in-law suffered from multiple strokes. When it comes to being caregivers, she points out how unprepared those working with care systems themselves are, despite having seen closely several cases of illness and aging.

She goes on to talk about two caregivers she met through work in Singapore. Amal had to work through a phase of shame and guilt, to hold her own identity. She eventually built a support network and caregiving was a team effort in her case. Whereas Wong, lived in survival mode, always prepared to run to safety. Lekshmy notes how Wong lived in a world that was not easily perceived from outside.

“I learned that there are four things wrong with caregiving today … it’s unwanted … unspoken … unseen … [and] unsupported … Imagine you’re a caregiver and you’re doing something that nobody wants to accept, nobody wants to talk about, nobody wants to see or support, how does that leave you?”

She discusses her views on how caregiving is looked at as a burden today. She points out the limitations in acceptance, the vocabulary and the tools when it comes to communicating a caregiver’s concerns. Thirdly, healthcare professionals tend to overlook caregivers and a support system is absent, leaving the caregiver alone in the journey. This eventually results in stress, depression and burn out.

“[To raise a child] we support and coach and guide parents throughout … give them tools and products and services … What if we didn’t make a distinction between caring for the young and caring for the old?” 

Lekshmy reckons caregiving should be looked at like parenting is. The light under which the highs and lows of caring for a child are viewed, is what is missing in the process of caring for the ill and aged. She puts forth ideas that meet with the four recognized needs of a caregiver as per her work and personal experience. She concludes by urging caregivers to break the silence and seek support, healthcare professionals to provide better interactions, and employers to understand the needs of an employee in the caregiving journey.

If you can identify with this story, please share it with others who can benefit from it. The feeling of understanding, not being alone and access to support is what keeps one going.

Sharing your opinion helps reflect and influence the healthcare system and our society at large. You can help bring back ‘care’ into healthcare and in society for patients, fellow professionals and the family caregivers. Our experiences and hopes can benefit others – to know that the challenges are the same, learn new ways to cope and care…no one is really alone but part of a team.

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Source: TED Talks

This YouTube video has been curated by Caregiver Saathi. All Rights are Reserved with the original publisher and creators.

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