“It’s just a godsend the Community Foundation is involved with this”
Caregivers: we are listening to you.
Caregiving for aging loved ones will touch every family some day in some way. There are almost 100,000 seniors in Washoe County. You probably know a few people who are caring for their spouse or parent. Are you a caregiver yourself?
If so, you know it can be an overwhelming responsibility. Helping family caregivers is a critical challenge that we can address through our initiative and make a big impact.
The Caregiver Support Initiative began by interviewing five caregivers and expanded to two public convenings during fall 2016. 152 people participated in the two convenings, and 89 of the participants were current or former family caregivers.
Powerful things happen when people come together.
Action Items Based on Information Gathered from the Public Convenings:
1. Develop A Caregiver Guidebook
The Community Foundation is developing Washoe Caregiver’s Guidebook to give to new caregivers. Discharge planners will give the guidebook to caregivers at the time their family member is released from the hospital or a medical facility. The guidebook is a basic introduction to the caregiver experience and contains information on numerous caregiving topics including answers to frequently asked questions, respite care, speaking with health care professionals, and other issues. In addition to hospitals and medical facilities, the guidebook will be available at non-profit organizations, and community centers.
2. Create A Comprehensive Online Resource Database
In partnership with the Sanford Center for Aging and the University of Nevada School of Medicine, the Community Foundation is creating WashoeCaregivers.org, a comprehensive go-to database of resources for caregivers within Washoe County. The resource database will be accessible online and in print. Users will be able to search for specific terms based on their situation so they only receive information that is relevant to them. Each listed provider will be contacted twice annually to verify their posting is up to date. Free printed versions of the resource list will be made twice annually and the website will also have printer friendly pages so users can easily download print service provider contact information.
After the website and printed guides are complete, we will do extensive community outreach through advertising and in-person training for family caregivers, service providers, and anyone who may need to make a referral (e.g. paramedics, librarians, discharge planners, medical social workers, and others.)
3. A forum for Washoe caregivers will be created to share their experiences and advice on caregiving through email.
Any person in our community will be able to sign up for the Forum. You will then be able to submit a specific question about caregiving (e.g. My mom is 81 and is having trouble getting in and out of the bath. Do you have any suggestions of how to help?). Any person who is part of the Forum will be able to respond. The Community Foundation will screen the questions and responses to make sure that they are relevant to senior caregiving.
It is extremely stressful and pretty isolating for the two of us, because we had been peers, and friends, and a married couple. That has shifted, because it’s becoming more and more like I am in charge of his world. I am becoming more like his mother than his wife. –
anonymous caregiver at convening