Caregiver Support Programs
|A look across Taylor Memorial Bridge in Hudson/Photo by Douglas Flynn
The informal support provided by family caregivers is vital, but often underappreciated. It hasn’t been totally ignored however, and in fact support for family caregivers was formally written into law when the National Family Caregiver Support Program was established as part of the Older Americans Act Amendments of 2000.
The program provides grants to states to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible.
The Administration on Aging notes that the program calls for all states, working in partnership with Area Agencies on Aging and local community service providers, to have five basic services for family caregivers:
- Information to caregivers about available services
- Assistance to caregivers in gaining access to the services
- Individual counseling, organization of support groups, and caregiver training to assist caregivers in making decisions and solving problems related to their caregiving roles
- Respite care to enable caregivers to be temporarily relieved from their caregiving responsibilities
- Supplemental services, on a limited basis, to complement the care provided by family caregivers
Eligible Program Participants:
As of the 2006 Reauthorization of the Older Americans Act, the following specific populations of family caregivers are eligible to receive services:
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older;
- Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders;
- Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to children under the age of 18; and
- Grandparents and other relatives (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to adults age 18-59 with disabilities.
The Massachusetts Family Caregiver Support Program is administered by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, in coordination with the Area Agencies on Aging/Aging Services Access Points throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Caregiver Support Programs in MetroWest:
Each of the four ASAPs serving communities in MetroWest offers a Caregiver Support Program.
BayPath Elder Services, Inc., which serves Ashland, Dover, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Marlborough, Natick, Northborough, Sherborn, Southborough, Sudbury, Wayland, Westborough, provides help for caregivers with:
- Legal issues
- Caregiving tips and strategies
- Home safety training and modification
- Mental health resources
- Respite care
- Family mediation
- Stress management and caregiver wellness
- Long-term planning
- Information on housing options
- Support groups
- Adult day health programs
- Adaptive equipment
- Geriatricians and specialists
- Veterans benefits
- Training in caring for a person with Alzheimer’s Disease of any age
To speak with BayPath's Caregiver Specialist, call 508-573-7239 or visit their website at www.baypath.org/caregiver.
HESSCO Elder Services, which serves the MetroWest communities of Medfield, Millis and Norfolk in its coverage area, also features an extensive caregiver support program with services including:
- Information about available community services
- Assistance in gaining access to those services
- Caregiver assessment and home visit by Caregiver Specialist
- Assessment report with a Plan of Caregiving based on the caregiver’s strengths and weaknesses
- Establishment of an emergency plan and long range goal planning
- Individual supportive counseling
- Follow-up contact as needed
To speak with HESSCO's Caregiver Specialist, call 781-784-4944 or visit their website at hessco.org/caregiver-assistance/.
Springwell, which serves MetroWest towns Needham and Wellesley in its coverage area, also has extensive caregiver support services, including:
- Care advisor to consult with caregivers and provide an assessment of care-giving needs, suggestions about resource options and follow-up assistance.
- Tools and resources to help with long-term care planning, including the Caregiver’s Notebook, an aid for caregivers to have a central place to record and document the important aspects of care.
- Care advisors visit with caregivers to help them understand what is going on, to review available options and to learn how to best manage the social service and health care networks.
To speak with Springwell's Caregiver Specialist, call 617-926-4100 or visit their website at www.spingwell.com/service/caregiver-support.
Tri-Valley, Inc., which serves MetroWest communities in Bellingham, Franklin, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon and Milford, also features a Caregiver Support Program to help caregivers to access information, resources, services, training and support, including:
- A Caregiver Specialist who can provide individual support and assistance to caregivers seeking information or resources related to their specific situational needs.
- Upon request, an Elder Care Advisor (ECA) will speak with caregivers in person, by phone or through e-mail and conduct an assessment of the caregiver’s situation.
- The free 130 page Caregiver Guide [PDF] provides information on local and statewide community resources.
- A Caregiver Organizer to assist caregivers in maintaining important medical and service information on their loved one. The free Organizer is available in 10 languages. Contact Tri-Valley for more information.
- The Long Distance Caregiver’s Booklet helps caregivers who live some distance away to assess needs, identify local resources and plan for services in their loved one’s community.
To speak with Tri-Valley's Caregiver Specialist, call 508-949-6640 or visit their website at www.trivalleyinc.org/caregiver-support/.
Powerful Tools for Caregivers:
One common feature of Caregiver Support Programs is the Powerful Tools for Caregivers course. Powerful Tools for Caregivers is a six-week educational program designed to help family caregivers. It is based on the highly successful chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Dr. Kate Lorig and her colleagues at Stanford University’s Patient Education Research Center.
This program will help you take care of yourself while caring for a relative or friend. You will benefit from this class whether you are helping a parent, spouse, friend, someone who lives at home, in a nursing home or around the country.
For information on upcoming classes at BayPath Elder Services, contact the BayPath caregiver specialist at 508-573-7239. The other ASAPs in the area – HESSCO, Springwell and Tri-Valley – also offer Powerful Tools for Caregivers classes.