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 “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 also presents the community with an opportunity for significant impact.

The Caregiver Support Initiative began by interviewing five caregivers and expanded to two community-wide convenings during fall 2016. 152 people participated in the two convenings, with 89 of the participants being current or former family.

Powerful things happen when people come together.   

Action Items Based on Evaluation of Information 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 can give the guidebook to caregivers at the time their family member is released from the hospital or a medical facility. The guidebook will cover the caregiver experience and contain 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, service provider offices, community centers, and other locations.

2. Create A Comprehensive 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 database of resources for caregivers to seniors 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 print pages specific to their need.

After the website and printed guides are complete, we will do extensive community outreach  through advertising and in-person training to ensure family caregivers, service providers, and anyone who may need to make a referral (e.g. paramedics, librarians, discharge planners, medical social workers, and others) know how to navigate the resource database.

3. Build A Caregiver Online Discussion Page
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 Listserv. 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 Listserv is then able to respond directly to the person who asked the question. The Community Foundation will be screening the questions and responses to ensure that they are relevant to senior caregiving.

you-spoke2we-listened2

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