The Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care’s commitment to the development of evidence-based approaches to caregiver support has contributed significantly to this clinical area of practice. Previously, there was scant literature/research in this area. Until recently the caregiver had not been the focus of interventions and the impact of the caregiver’s experience was not appreciated. Baycrest now sees the caregiver as a primary focus for support, education, and counselling. By supporting caregivers, seniors can remain in their communities, avoiding emergency department visits, and delaying admissions to long-term care (LTC). Studies are now showing that the presence of a family caregiver is one of the most significant factors in determining whether a person is admitted to LTC or remains in the community. Caregivers are now a primary stakeholder group for Baycrest across all of its programs and services. Baycrest has developed a range of Caregiver programs to meet the needs of caregivers at different points in their caregiving journey. There are times when education and information is most valuable and other times when counselling and/or psychotherapy is the appropriate intervention that will assist a caregiver. A recent report from the Canadian Institute of Health Information confirmed that up to 40 % of family caregivers are experiencing some form of mental distress. Baycrest programs are innovative because they respond to the unique needs of family caregivers, apply technology to reach caregivers who may not be able to leave their home and also because of the focus on knowledge translation of evidence based interventions. The following evidence based Caregiver Programs / tools are currently in place and/or in development at Baycrest: • Caring for Your Loved One Psycho Educational Group: Initially developed in 2002 in collaboration between Occupational Therapy and Social Work. A guide book and fact sheets are utilized in the delivery of the group focused on non spousal family members. This six-week education and support group is for children of parents with dementia who live in the community.. Over 300 caregivers have attended the program through self referral? and many continue to be involved in alumni groups for ongoing support with other caregivers. Manual has been translated and delivered in Russian at a local community centre and is being revised for broad distribution to professionals and consumers. Information for potential participants is accessible from the Baycrest Internet home page. http://www.baycrest.org/Programs_and_Services/SupportGroup/12084.asp • On-line Fronto Temporal Dementia (FTD) Group for Spouses: This innovative therapeutic intervention was researched and piloted through Baycrest KLARU Research Institute. The knowledge gained was directly transferred from a research setting into the Adult Day Program for seniors, a program that accepts younger individuals living with FTD, a significant cognitive impairment often presenting with behavioural issues. This on line group program reaches a unique group of younger caregivers caring for their aging spouse living with Frontal Temporal Dementia. • The Changing Relationship, Support Group for Spouses of Dementia Sufferers: An evidence based eight week education and support group for individuals caring for spouses with dementia who are living in the community. This group intervention was developed in collaboration with research scientist, Dr. Elsa Marziali and the social work professional practice group at Baycrest. A manual has been developed and shared with other agencies wishing to offer similar interventions to spousal caregivers. . Information for potential participants is accessible from the Baycrest Internet home page. http://www.baycrest.org/Programs_and_Services/SupportGroup/12090.asp • Caregiver Assessment early identification: The Ida and Sam Ross Memory Clinic has developed a new tool called the Dementia Caregiver Assessment Tool and are researching whether an online tool can assist clinicians and caregivers in determining key issues of concern and services needed by the caregiver. The principal investigator is Dr. Elsa Marziali. This is a new initiative that came about as a realization that all of our patients are thoroughly assessed, but their caregivers’ are not given the appropriate attention that we know they need. The assessment tool consists of five questionnaires that are completed on a password protected web site, using a computer located in the waiting area of the clinic. The results are immediately available for the nurse to review at the clinic appointment and allow for early identification and referrals to appropriate supports for the caregiver. • Smart Home Technology Research Study: In partnership with private industry Baycrest is involved in this study to gather preliminary information on the utility of a particular smart home technology system to enhance aging at home for seniors living alone with family support. The study aims to determine the impact of such technologies on both caregiver burdens and the seniors’ ability to live independently in the community.
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