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Helping the Helpers: Easing the Burden of Caregiving

They are parents, spouses, daughters, sons, neighbors, and friends. Their work is challenging, tiring, often lonely, and sometimes physically strenuous. They don’t get paid — they work out of necessity and the goodness of their hearts. They are America’s family caregivers.

According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, 43.5 million US adults have provided unpaid care for a sick or disabled child or adult within the past year. Sometimes this is for the short term, while the person convalesces, and sometimes it’s a permanent situation. Caregiving can involve everyday chores, such as grocery shopping, laundry, food preparation, and managing finances. However, 46% of caregivers also perform physical, medical, and nursing tasks, such as lifting people out of beds and chairs, feeding them, helping them dress and bathe, changing diapers, dispensing medication, and coordinating medical visits. Not surprisingly, this work takes an emotional, psychological, and physical toll on the caregiver.

Community Memorial Healthcare is committed to anticipating community needs and coming up with effective solutions. We pay close attention to the Ventura County Health Needs Assessment, and when the 2019 Assessment revealed a caregiving crisis brewing in our community, we knew we had to act. In light of the aging population, it was clear that the need for family caregivers would only grow, as would the need for resources to support these caregivers. Working collaboratively with the American Hospital Association and various community partners across Ventura County, we launched a pilot program known as the Community Memorial Caregiver Navigator Program.

Caregiver Navigator Program

Anyone caring for a patient of the Community Memorial Health Centers is eligible for our Caregiver Navigator Program. The first step is to schedule an interview with our Caregiver Navigator. As a licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist, our Caregiver Navigator has a professional understanding of the impact caregiving has on families and relationships. The Navigator evaluates the caregiving environment, including the community, housing situation, and economic stability of the person receiving care. The program provides help to family caregivers by:

  • Assessing needs and identifying areas for improvement
  • Facilitating access to the appropriate level of care services
  • Connecting caregivers to home health, respite care, adult daycare, mental health, and other community resources
  • Assisting with communication and coordination with healthcare providers
  • Creating opportunities for caregiver education
  • Providing emotional support
  • Helping caregivers establish a self-care plan
  • Checking in with caregivers every week to see how they are doing

Program Successes

As more people enroll in our Caregiver Navigator Program, Community Memorial has started tracking and measuring results, which are extremely encouraging:

  • There has been a decrease in hospital readmissions, both for the people being cared for at home and for caregivers who have fallen ill.
  • Physicians, patients, and caregivers are reporting more open and constructive communication.
  • Caregiver anxiety and depression, common conditions that lead to burnout, have decreased dramatically.
  • Caregiver resiliency has increased. This tends to happen after two or three months of working with our Navigator.

If you are currently caring for someone who is sick or disabled, please know that help, support, and resources are available. Contact the Community Memorial Caregiver Navigator Program today at 805-948-5803, or for more information, click here.