Training and education for caregivers has been found to be tremendously helpful in providing information to both help care for loved ones while also making sure caregivers are taking care of themselves. Numerous research studies have shown that training can be effective in reducing caregiver stress, anxiety, and help the caregiver develop a better relationship with the care recipient. Specifically, support interventions with caregivers can reduce caregiver stress and improve patient care (Aksoydan, 2019; Chen, 2010).
The Caregiver Friendly Communities Assessment scores on three factors in this section.
Expand the categories below to find the scoring factors and recommended practices for each. You can also download a pdf of the Best Practices Document to save and share.
Availability and access to caregiver training is an important element in effectively supporting caregivers in their caregiver role. Knowledge of training programs available is often another barrier. One study identified lack of knowledge of existing resources as the top barrier to effective support for caregivers; this effect was exacerbated for African American caregivers who were less aware of resources available to them than their non-African American counterparts (Casado, 2011). Measuring the extent to which caregivers are aware of the resources available to them was beyond the scope of this particular assessment but remains an important factor for all communities to assess and consider.
In the Caregiver Friendly Communities Assessment, availability and accessibility is measured by several features:
Recommended Practice: Check the supports available for training programs and 1) find subsidized training; 2) find ways to offer respite care for in-person training; and 3) invest in virtual training which may be more accessible for some caregivers.
Sample Programs & Resources:
(note that online training programs can greatly increase access as long as participants have computer equipment, internet access and basic computer skills knowledge)
Recorded sessions enable caregivers to watch them “on demand.” The webinars are a convenient and cost-effective way to make the same information available to caregivers that they would get at traditional conferences. The County of San Diego incurred no additional costs in launching the program in 2010. Software was already available through existing county resources and staff dedicated to caregiver support shifted their time to the program. If existing online webinar software is not available, the cost of buying a webinar software license is about $4,000 annually, depending on capacity. For more information about this program, visit their website at:
Caregiver feedback programs are a different kind of education involving professionals reviewing and shadowing caregivers when they are “on-the-job” and providing them with custom feedback to improve their care. Research has found that individualized, caregiver training significantly improves caregiver self-efficacy and results in declines in depression (Hendrix, 2011). Further, family-centered empowerment programs which include the whole family in similar types of individualized feedback showed a significant increase in caregiver self-efficacy for families with a loved one diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (Jafari, 2020).
Availability of an array of training levels and topics is important to optimally support caregivers in their role. Advanced training in caregiver skills was found to be very important in a Maine study evaluating the Maine Savvy Caregiver Program (Samia, 2012). Additionally, caregivers need access to condition-specific information relevant to their loved one (such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Cancer, and other conditions) and its disease progression impacts for the caregiver.
“If caregivers do not have the knowledge and skills to perform their work, they may unintentionally harm their loved one. This risk for injury is directly related to lack of knowledge and competence, which can be improved through caregiver education and support. For example, a recent study confirmed that patients had many negative outcomes when untrained informal caregivers managed their home enteral nutrition or tube feeding. Problems included tube displacement, tube clogging, infection, and dehydration—all of which can lead to a stressful caregiving situation and hospital readmission.” (Silver 2004).
Sample Programs & Resources:
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