We are 4-weeks into an 8-week Caregiver Self-Care Series Program up in Concord, NH at Havenwood Heritage Heights, a Continuing Care Retirement Community for people over age 62. The program was marketed via flyers and a campus newsletter. It was offered as a free activity for any caregiver on the 600+ person campus who wished to join either an afternoon or evening weekly group. Group members are told when joining that this is an educational project – a final project for my CPE program, serving also as a pilot for similar programs I hope to offer in the future at my home-based retreat center and school for caregivers, in Topsfield, MA.
The pilot program goals are to:
- Educate dementia caregivers on the topic of self-care
- Empower & support an at-home daily wellness practice
- Learn how to reach caregivers most in need
- Test, request feedback, and learn effective program delivery approaches
The program offers a multi-intervention approach (evidence-based) over 8 consecutive weeks. Two small-groups (Group A and Group B) on two separate campuses (1 and 2), meet once-a-week, Tuesday afternoons (60 minutes) and evenings (90 minutes). Small groups are limited to 8 members. Members receive self-care wellness education, skill-training, one-on-one coaching, small-group facilitation and coaching, and opportunities for peer-networking.
4-week program feedback themes from Group A caregivers:
- All belong to a supportive group weekly.
- All report they are learning new self-care information.
- They are learning: 7 Sustainable Skills for the Long-term Care Journey – Song & Dance; Meditation; Self-focus; Goal-setting; Being more aware of self, surroundings, body/mind/heart/spirit.
- All report they are practicing self-care skills at home.
- Most are networking with peers in the group (in and outside of the group).
- Few are checking-in one-on-one with a coach weekly.
Early program feedback, week 2, I asked Group B caregivers the question, “Why are not more caregivers taking advantage of/signed-up for this program?” The two male caregivers who were present suggested that perhaps there are too many caregiver support programs happening right now. This one is in addition to a monthly caregiver support group, and a caregiver day (4-hour program) is scheduled for February 17.
Staying true to the mission statement I wrote in 2010 (one of several bullet points):
We lead and participate in research that aims to understand the effectiveness of care giver and receiver health programs.
Moving forward with a listening heart,
vision, inquiry, and action,