Funder:
The Williamsburg Community Health Foundation

Project Description:
This project addressed the needs of area caregivers by assessing local support groups and offering additional educational programs.

In March and April of 2009, an online survey of support group leaders was completed. The findings were discussed at a Support Group Leader Summit in May 2009, where support group leaders identified strengths and challenges to leading support groups for those involved in elder care. They requested assistance in accessing new materials and curriculum to deliver to their respective groups. The "Caring For You, Caring For Me" Education and Support Program, of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving in Americus, GA, was introduced during the Summit as one such program that can enhance existing groups or foster the establishment of new ones. The "Caring For You, Caring For Me" Leader Preparation Workshop was held in June 2009 and 25 members from the community were trained as facilitators for this program.

Feedback received from participants indicated a variety of benefits in offering a program such as this. The participants appreciated the opportunity to learn directly from the developer of the curriculum, Dr. David Haigler, and they reported that the program guide, networking, and interaction with other participants in modeling the exercises were most helpful. Since the original training, additional facilitators have been trained by Christy Jensen, coordinator of the local program. The advisory team has agreed that most all caregivers in the community need support and assistance, but particular attention has been given to low-income caregivers.

Collaboration with clinics, religious organizations, and social service providers remain instrumental in reaching these caregivers. The "Caring For You" Program has been introduced to the Commonwealth of Virginia through the delivery of this program in six different sites. 96 family, professional, and volunteer caregivers have completed the program, with an estimated impact factor of 459 caregiver and care recipients benefitting from this program.

The Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health is committed to offering this program, and to helping caregivers access respite services, for the foreseeable future.