After taking the Family Caregiver Workshop, Claire realized the value of training and how much the information positively influenced her relationship with her husband George. She felt more secure stepping into his world and validating his experience. She found that she could connect with George and establish a new type of relationship, different than the one they had experienced prior to his disease but very meaningful nonetheless. These feelings were validated even more through the connections she made in the support group she attended regularly. She found her group and sharing her experiences and feelings with other caregivers invaluable. It was through speaking to her fellow support group members that she realized she could no longer provide care for George by herself and reached out to CaringKind again for assistance.
While George had been attending a day program two days a week, Claire now realized she needed more help caring for him at home. Claire was provided with information about CaringKind’s Dementia Care Training for Professional Caregivers (DCTPC) program. This 45-hour training program is specifically designed to empower professional home care workers to provide the highest quality of care to persons with dementia. The program provides direct care workers — home health aides, home attendants, certified nursing assistants, private companions and others — with six full days of training that stresses the importance of understanding dementia from an emotional point of view as well as from a practical one. In lieu of meaningful treatment or a cure, the best treatment for persons with dementia is quality care.
In order for families to connect with these trained professional caregivers, Caringkind created Together We CareTM (TWC). This web-based program matches families with trained professional caregivers who have completed CaringKind’s training. Families have the opportunity to create an account, log on and view profiles created by DCTPC participants who are seeking employment. To maximize search results and create good connections, families can filter search results by language and location.
After Claire created an account on TWC, she then had access to over a hundred profiles of professional caregivers who, having received training at CaringKind, shared her views on how a person with dementia should be cared for. One caregiver’s profile in particular stood out to her – Ms. Cheryl R., who described herself as a morning person who loved to take her clients for walks, weather permitting. Claire contacted Cheryl and scheduled an interview in a coffee shop that was mutually accessible. During the interview, Claire was impressed with Cheryl’s upbeat personality and extroverted nature. She saw how Cheryl would connect with her husband and decided to hire her on a trial basis.
Within the next several weeks, George became accustomed to his new caregiver and they were able to establish a routine that included walks around the neighborhood after breakfast during which Cheryl would draw out stories of his days as a postal worker. When they returned home George would often turn to Cheryl and thank her for helping him with his route. He was then much calmer throughout the day, feeling accomplished because his morning “work” went well.
From Claire’s perspective, she now felt more relaxed and well rested having someone trusted to depend on, who understood George’s illness and could be sensitive to his preferences and needs. Hiring a professional caregiver provided her with the respite she so desperately needed. She found herself becoming more patient with George and was able to enjoy his company in a way she hadn’t when she was responsible for all of his care. Claire was able to set aside some time for herself and enjoy some of the activities she hadn’t been able to prioritize while being the sole caregiver. She scheduled a weekly brunch with her close friends and made sure she made time for her grandchildren, secure in the knowledge that George was receiving excellent care.
At CaringKind, we recognize the difficulties caregivers providing support to people with dementia encounter on a day to day basis. No single caregiver can accommodate the increasing needs that a person with dementia will have throughout the duration of their disease; it takes a team of caregivers – whether informal or paid – to provide that level of support.
George and Claire’s Journey continues on the next page...