The Caregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others – A Review

The Caregiver’s Notebook- AnThis post is a review of Jolene Philo’s The Caregiver’s Note Book: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help you Care for Others. I received a complimentary review copy, but I was already sold on this tool before I was offered it. The opinion expressed in this review is fully my own, and the link included to purchase the book is my affiliate link through Amazon.ca. If you choose to purchase through this link, I receive a small commission, but never at an additional cost to you. I thank you for supporting this site in this way.

I learned early on when my son was born that I had best get organized because this would be a life filled with managing appointments, papers and notes.

In the beginning, there was chaos

At first, I scribbled thoughts and questions anywhere I could. At the hospital, I had a pregnancy planner and I used up every little corner of space left in there to record feedings, diaper changes, and weight gain.

Once we were discharged, I used a plain, lined notebook to record the details of our medical and therapeutic appointments. This was also the place I jotted down questions. Furthermore, I had created a folder with lined pages to continue recording feedings and weight gain at home.

Notebook for keeping notes of medical appointments

The notebook I carried to appointments with medical questions and answers. The folder contains my son’s growth chart and some other emergency information.

Eventually, there were too many reports and notes to keep track of. I started a binder filing system. But, the binder is explosive. It includes every detail I’ve kept track of since my son’s birth, and it’s categorized by age. All of his medical and therapeutic reports are kept safely in there. I had to start a second and third binder to keep track of his equipment and funding.

Binder organizational system for medical records

Binders with dividers store medical records, funding receipts, caregiving timesheets, and equipment information. Everything you see here is what I’ve kept since my son’s birth.

My telephone book contains our medical contacts (mixed right in with family and friends).

Phone book for contacts storage

All of our contacts are in this family phone book. I can’t even show you the inside. It’s been scratched off and ripped apart each time there has been a change in personnel – it’s a complete mess!

Then, I have yearly pocket calendars. They hold all of the appointments since day one. I also recorded anything odd with my son’s health in there, even when I wondered if it was pertinent at all.

Yearly pocket calendars for storing medical appointments

Yearly pocket calendars since the first year!

As technology became more prevalent, I started recording appointments on an online calendar. One day, I even did the crazy thing of retroactively adding each and every appointment I had recorded in the pocket calendars into my “in-the-cloud” calendar – in case I ever lost those.

Clearly, there are too many systems going on for one child who has only been on the earth 7 years.

Clearly, I can’t carry all of these pieces with me.

Clearly, this is just too much to manage.

Too many organizational systems

Even if I can keep track of all this, how is anyone else (including my husband) ever going to understand my system? How would anyone know where to find everything since each book is stored in different places in our home?

An all-in-one planner and record-keeper to the rescue

When I first heard of Jolene Philo’s The Caregiver’s Note Book: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help you Care for Others, I knew this was a tool I needed to get my hands on. (In case you didn’t already figure out, I have a thing for planning, and anything organization-related makes me giddy!)

This book is a planner and record-keeper in one. The second it was in my hands, I felt like each of my systems had come together in one hand-held, easy-to-transport book, and I could instantly feel my breathing slow.

The Caregiver's Notebook

Gorgeous design makes you want to carry this around. It’s hard-covered and spiral-bound.

Among the many things that parents of children with special needs require to take care of, keeping track of medical, therapeutic and funding records tops them. You want to keep all of these reports and documents, but you don’t quite know how to get them out of that heap you’ve created in the corner of your bedroom.

What’s in The Caregiver’s Notebook

The notebook contains the following sections packed with easy-to-use forms:

  • Emergency information
  • Calendar: 3 year, blank calendar ready for you to customize
  • Contacts
  • Notes
  • Medications
  • Medical information:
  • Insurance information
  • Legal documents
  • Routines and schedules

And it offers special features, including several to meet the practical and spiritual needs of caregivers:

  • Resource list
  • Glossary
  • Bible reading plan
  • 30-day prayer guides
  • Excerpts for caregiving devotionals
  • Inspirational verses and quotes
  • How-to instructions at the beginning of each section
  • Stress-relieving tips
  • Spiral bound spine so the notebook lies flat
  • Pocket page in the back for business cards and papers

Some of my favorite sections of The Caregiver’s Notebook

Calendar section of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

The Calendar section of The Caregiver’s Notebook includes 3-year’s worth of calendar pages. You can begin whenever you want. This takes the place of my yearly pocket planner. (Note: Pocket calendar in image not included.)

Back pocket of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

After the three years are over and you’ve filled in the Calendar section, you can either purchase a new book, or, if you don’t have many changes to make to the other sections, I suggest adding your own pocket planner that can be stored at the back of the book. There is a neat two-sided pocket page that allows you to carry additional loose papers, including a small calendar. (Note: Pocket calendar not included.)

Contacts section of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

I no longer need to mix the family address book with our medical contacts. Now, everything is neatly in one place. Jolene suggests using pencil to fill in the notebook, and the place this makes the most sense is in this Contact section since it gets updated so often.

Notes section of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

The Notes section is a section with lined, blank pages. In the book, Jolene lists some ways you can use those pages. Some additional ideas I have thought of include: keeping a record of my homemade “tried and true” remedies, or a growing list of needs (to answer the question, “What do you need?” or “How can I help?” – makes having the list handy and easy to ask for help), and an emergency list of things you’d need for your child in a hospital stay.

Writing in the Routines and Schedules pages of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

The Routines and Schedules section is a thorough section as it lists everything anyone would need to know about your child that most medical records/ books don’t ask. You can record the assistive devices your child needs, how he communicates, environmental preferences (such as lighting and sounds), how much assistance he needs for personal care, method of mobility, feeding and sleeping schedules and preferences (and intolerances/ allergies), what your child enjoys to do, and what he absolutely dislikes (and so much more). Then, there are weekday schedules, weekend schedules, and holiday/ special event schedules! This is so perfect especially if you are your child’s primary caregiver. You likely are the only one who knows the routine so well and it’s wise to record it. (Note: Coffee not included.)

Prayer guide section of The Caregiver's Notebook by Jolene Philo

The Prayer Guide section is comprised of 30 days of prayer inspirations. I cannot tell you how I wish I had had this when we spent time in hospital with our son at the beginning of this year. When you don’t have words, Jolene gives them to you in this beautiful selection of Bible verses combined with her simple, uplifting prayers. These quotes and prayers can serve as journaling prompts as well. (Note: Crystal angel not included.)

To get an inside peek at the book, I highly suggest visiting Jolene’s Caregiver’s Notebook Vlog Series where she shares each section of this book in detail (and you also get to “meet” the lovely author herself!)

Who can use The Caregiver’s Notebook

The Caregiver’s Notebook was designed for a wide variety of caregiving situations, such as:

  • adult children caring for aging parents
  • spouses caring for husbands or wives
  • parents caring for babies, toddlers, young children, and teens with special needs
  • parents caring for adult children with special needs
  • parents caring for typical babies from birth through age 3
  • senior citizens in good health who want to have their affairs in order for whoever will care for them in case of an accident or sudden illness

How to use The Caregiver’s Notebook

Jolene states this about her book: “Not every caregiver will use every section of the book. It’s designed for picking, choosing, and adapting the contents so you can be a knowledgeable advocate for your loved one. And in some cases, so your child can become a knowledgeable self-advocate in adulthood.”

I am presently using this tool as the main book for all of our updated records regarding our son. Larger documents are still being stored in binders. However, I no longer have to worry about contacts being in a separate book on the kitchen counter, or medical information somewhere in his diaper bag. All of the paperwork has now been reduced to two main areas: The Caregiver’s Notebook and the filing system (which are the binders).

Bring peace into your life

If there is one thing this supportive tool will bring to you it’s peace of mind. And, that will come to you in different phases as you work through this book:

  1. Due to its inviting nature, The Caregiver’s Notebook will force you to go through that overwhelming pile of medical documents, and finally put an end to the chaos. When I sat with my stack of documents, I realized that I was holding on to some outdated information that I could easily streamline into the planner (or into recycling – we don’t need to keep every little bit of information about our loved one).
  2. Due to its easy-to-use system, you will want to keep the book updated as soon as there is a change in your child’s life.
  3. Due to its pleasant design, you will find that planning and organizing all of the serious parts of your child’s life to be quite motivational.
  4. Due to the inspiring messages sprinkled throughout the book, you will reach for this book in a moment of despair and instantly feel connected – not only to God, but to other caregivers going through similar difficulties.

I have yet to find an all-in-one system for my son with special needs that bring me such joy to open and use as The Caregiver’s Notebook. You will not be disappointed.

A Giveaway!

Author Jolene Philo is graciously offering one FREE copy of The Caregiver’s Notebook to one lucky winner here on the blog. Simply leave a reply to this question in the comment section below: How do you foresee this tool changing your life? If you are not a parent of a loved-one with a disability but would like to win this to pass this along to someone you know who would benefit from it, simply state who you want to win this book for. Leave a comment by Sunday, December 21st, 2014 11:59 EST to be entered to win. A winner will be selected by random generator and will be announced on Monday, December 22nd, 2014. Open to US and Canadian residents only. Comments closed. 

Winner Announced!

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Winner is comment #7! Congratulations Krista! Please send me an email at gabriellavolpeconsulting@gmail.com with your full address and the book will be on its way to you. Enjoy!

About the author

JJolene Philoolene Philo is daughter of a disabled father, and she parented a child with special needs. She’s a former educator with 25 years of public school experience. Her books related to special needs include the Different Dream series and The Caregiver’s Notebook. Her blog,www.DifferentDream.com, offers practical resources and spiritual encouragement for caregivers. She also a guest blogger for Not Alone at www.specialneedsparenting.net and Friendship Circle of Michigan at www.friendshipcircle.org. Jolene speaks frequently at special needs and foster care conferences around the country and conducts special needs ministry training workshops for churches. She and and her husband Hiram live in Boone. They are parents of two married children and grandparents to one adorable toddler, with two more babies on the way. You can connect with Jolene on Facebook (@A Different Dream for My Child), (Twitter( @jolenephilo), 
Pinterest (JolenePhilo), LinkedIn ( Jolene Philo), and at her websites,www.DifferentDream.com
 and www.JolenePhilo.com.

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The Caregiver’s Notebook: An Organizational Tool and Support to Help You Care for Others – A Review

8 Responses

  1. I would love to win a copy of the Caregiver’s notebook for my sister. She is charged with caring for our elderly mother. In short, Mom has so many papers strewn around the house. With the endless appointments and the stream of medications my sister has to keep up with, it would be a blessing for her to have this notebook to alleviate some of the stress she has on her shoulders. I think this is a wonderful tool that anyone can benefit from.

    Thank you!
    Sherry Palmer

    Sherry Palmer December 16, 2014 at 5:48 pm #
  2. OH MY GOODNESS–you are organized. But you are an inspiration. I need to be better, do better in this area. Maybe I just need a secretary. Thanks for these ideas.

    Out One Ear - Linda Atwell December 16, 2014 at 9:25 pm #
  3. This book looks really interesting, especially for the routine and schedule section (insignificant details can become quite significant when caring for an autistic (or otherwise “special needs”) child.
    I have been feeling out the same questions (year after year) when my son is registering for summer camps, Christmas day camps, etc. I can see the usefulness of having this info at hand for such purposes, or should an unforeseen circumstance make me unable to care for my son (gasp! Such an anxiety provoking thought to any caregiver…)
    I find the spiritual component so interesting also. It is unfortunately so easy to forget this aspect as a caretaker (besides the usual busyness of life).
    I love the fact that the author has experience both on the older (her dad) and younger (her child) spectrum. I will definitely look up her website for inspiration. Thank you for sharing this information with your readers!

    Chantal December 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm #
  4. When my special needs son was growing up, I was so organized. I had everything in it’s place, binders and notebooks filled with every bit of information I might ever need, and also the challenges as well as his needs and just plain documenting everything he did and communicated even for a while to help me understand his progress. I also a calendar on the wall that showed every single appointment and even workshops, it was always filled. As he got older, I got more tired and let a lot of that go. It was probably not the wisest decision at the time.

    Winning a copy of The Caregiver’s Notebook, would be invaluable to our family as we deal with a new stage in his life, planning is adult future independent of us one day. It would certainly help me get re-organized in a positive way no doubt. It might also be very helpful for another loved one that is dealing with a chronic condition, and there’s also my aging parents. There are no shortage of ways I could make use of what sounds like an amazing book. Thank you for this opportunity to win a copy.

    Suzanne December 17, 2014 at 12:47 am #
  5. Wow Gabriella! Thank you for your amazing review! It is a beautiful book that would be incredibly useful for logging the many health related appointments that my son has as well as a way of organising all of the random notes and questions for the dr that always go missing when you need them and turn up in the strangest places (with drawings from my four year old all over them!)
    Definetly going on my christmas list!

    Christine December 17, 2014 at 8:06 pm #
  6. This isn’t an entry in the giveaway. Rather, it’s a heartfelt thank you for doing such a thorough review of “The Caregiver’s Notebook,” Gabriella. And thanks for adding it to DifferentDream.com’s Tuesday special needs link up.

    Jolene Philo December 18, 2014 at 8:13 pm #
  7. I’m always looking for ways to better organize our lives and my help my daughter reach her full potential. Being organized myself, reduces stress and opens up more time for me to be with my daughter. I still haven’t found the best organization tool for me so I hope to win. The Caregiver’s Notebook looks like a really good option.

    Krista December 20, 2014 at 11:13 pm #
  8. Comments closed here. Thank you everyone for your interest in this book! Winner announced above in the post.

    Please note that while I seem to be super organized, it’s not until this book came into my life that I really felt like my systems had purpose. It really helped streamline all of my many binders and books!

    Gabriella Volpe December 22, 2014 at 8:42 am #