Chances are that a majority of people will find themselves in some sort of caregiver role within their lifetime. Whether it is to a child with special needs, a spouse diagnosed with cancer, or an aging parent, the caregiver is a unique and critical ally in their loved ones care. It is essential that healthcare professional training concentrate not only on the patient and their needs, but also the integration of the caregiver into their practice. Teaching students early about the importance of such integration ensures that this facet of care is no longer overlooked. Just as important, however, is providing the appropriate training, education, and support to caregivers themselves. Whether it is education on their loved one's disease, information about resources in their community, or helpful tips on self-care, it is vital that caregivers feel educated, empowered, and equipped for their role.
Below are educational opportunities and resources provided by various organizations interested in caregiving.
Training for Caregivers
- The Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt provides education and training programs for caregivers that concentrate on learning skills to reduce stress, developing more effective communicate with family and healthcare providers, dealing with various emotions associated with caregiving, making difficult decisions, and problem solving. These programs are also great opportunities to meet other caregivers to exchange information and provide support.
- INSPIRE (Inspiring New Solutions and Providing Individualized Resources and Education) for Advanced Caregiving is a six-week program designed to help caregivers caring for an older adult in the home setting, including many issues surrounded dementia care. It is free of charge.
- Allegheny County's Area Agency on Aging offers several caregiver support programs (CSPs). Programs include Powerful Tools for Caregivers - a six-session, weekly, series focused on the needs of caregivers.
Training for professionals
- The Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt has many educational programs and trainings for professionals workings in hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, home health, etc. The goal is to increase awareness of age-related issues and needs, improve clinical skills of professionals, and address special issues concerning older adults such as sexuality and gender, long-term care directives, and dementia. The following are offered:
- Certificate Program in Gerontology for Nurse Aides and Nurses
- Critical Thinking Skills in Caring for Older Adults
- Geriatric Syndromes
- Ageless Wisdom
- Lost: When Wandering Turns Dangerous
- The “Me” in DeMEntia Care
- Certification Review Courses
Training for students
- The Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt provides training opportunities for students throughout their academic career including high school, college and graduate school.
- UPMC employees can apply for a scholarship from the Aging Institute for the University of Pittsburgh's graduate certificate program in gerontology.
- Health Careers Scholars Academy a month long summer program for gifted high school students interested in future studies in medicine. Students can select concentration courses which allow a more in-depth look at particular topics including: global health, geriatric health, public health, and behavioral health.
Resources for caregivers
- The Aging Institute of UPMC and Pitt has an information and referral line which can answer questions about community resources, resources for caregivers, caregiver support, care coordination options, and healthy aging tips for seniors in need.
- Aging Institute at UPMC McKeesport – help older adults, caregivers, family members and the community find the resources they need.
- For older adults transitioning into long term care settings and their caregivers, the Palliative Care Education Working Group and Geriatric Education Center (GEC) prepared the Depression and Adjustment in the Nursing Home Resource Tool Kit
- The Administration for Community Living (ACL) has programs providing information to link individuals to home- and community-based services in their region.
- Aging and Disability Resource Centers Program/No Wrong Door System - supports state efforts in streamlining access to long-term services and supports for older adults and people with disabilities.
- Centers for Independent Living (CILs) - CILs provide information and referral to services and supports available in the community.
- For those in the Allegheny County area, the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) provides various services to residents 60 years and older and their caregivers. Their goal is to assist seniors in living a safe, healthy, and whenever possible, independent lives.
- The AAA SeniorLine (412-350-5460; toll-free 1-800-344-4319) provides information on receiving services through the AAA.
- The AAA provides information to protect from abuse and neglect, community centers for seniors, services for adults who need assistance but want to remain in their homes, adults who need skilled care, and support and information for caregivers.
- The AAA also provides supports and brochures to grandparents who many find themselves in the caregiving/parenting role with their grandchildren.
Resources for professionals
For older adults transitioning into long term care settings, the Palliative Care Education Working Group and Geriatric Education Center (GEC) prepared the Depression and Adjustment in the Nursing Home Resource Tool Kit