Being a caregiver for a family member can be a stressful and difficult transition. In order to ensure that patients’ needs are being met and the home care is in line with health professionals, “family caregivers need information and training”1. The Prepared Family Caregiver model (also known by the acronym COPE) is designed to give caregivers the information and trainings necessary to problem solve and manage stressors.
COPE stands for Creativity, Optimism, Planning, and Expert information.
“Creativity: In generating solutions and coping options to problems encountered.
Optimism: Essential for emotional regulation and maintaining a sense of competence.
Planning: Following an orderly approach to identifying and solving problems.
Expert Information: Essential for understanding aspects of the condition and care needs for the care recipient, as well as for understanding personal emotions and needs as a caregiver.”2
The model is designed to help caregivers practice being creative when encountering something new and challenging, to be optimistic to help stay motivated and confident, to make plans, and to rely on the information, diagnoses, and treatment from healthcare professionals.
Research on the COPE model has found that it significantly helps caregivers carry the burden of caregiving and increases their quality of life. One study that specifically looked at family caregivers of women with breast cancer found that “a supportive educational program can improve physical, mental, spiritual, environmental domains and overall quality of life. It can also decrease the caring burden in the family caregivers”3. Another study found that patients who received COPE training with their significant other had “significantly less distress over the course of a year than those who received the training without their significant others.”2
The COPE “model is based on extensive research on problem-solving training and therapy. It empowers family members and patients for coping with illness and can help to moderate caregiver stress.”1 There are many benefits to getting the training and help necessary when becoming a family caregiver, to ensure that you are giving the patients the help they need and are getting the care you need as well.