With an aging population, the need for caregivers is increasing. In order to strengthen the local long-term care safety net for seniors, systems must also be in place to support caregiver needs.
Caring Together Lompoc is a public awareness campaign designed to address the first of four focus areas identified through the findings of a major community needs assessment survey.
The campaign launched June 30, 2016 at the Dick DeWees Community & Senior Center with a community briefing and resources for caregivers.
Attendees included caregivers, seniors, families, employers, healthcare providers and other community service organizations.
The needs assessment survey was conducted with residents of the Lompoc Valley who provide assistance to a senior family member, friend or neighbor.
The survey findings indicated that increasing awareness and self-identification of caregiver status is a critical component in meeting the needs of local caregivers.
“Nearly one in six people in Lompoc are regularly helping a senior spouse, parent or friend — many for more than 60 hours a week — yet many do not see themselves as caregivers,” said Ashley Costa, executive director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, the lead organization for a collaboration of several area nonprofits and agencies.
The Caring Together Lompoc campaign aims to increase awareness, provide tools for caregivers to better understand the impact of caregiving on their lives and direct them toward supportive resources already available in the community.
“Identifying yourself as a caregiver helps you recognize how stress associated with caregiving may affect your health, your work and your family and empowers you to connect with support available to you right here in Lompoc,” said Costa. “Caring Together Lompoc is also educating our local employers and health care providers, so we can all work together to keep caregivers healthy and productive.”
As a result of the needs assessment, Lompoc Valley Medical Center is already setting an example by updating its patient intake process so that doctors can be aware of possible impacts on health common to caregivers, help suggest appropriate resources and include family caregivers in the health team for the seniors they are caring for.
Selected Findings From the Lompoc Caregiver Needs Assessment Survey
» 16 percent, nearly 1 in 6, adults in Lompoc are caregivers
» Average caregiver age: 68
» Average 66 hours per week of caring
» 88 percent of family caregivers in Lompoc provide assistance with cooking, shopping, laundry or chores for a senior parent or spouse
» 84 percent of family caregivers in Lompoc provide transportation for a senior parent or spouse
» 59 percent of family caregivers in Lompoc manage finances for a senior parent or spouse
» 33 percent care for a spouse or partner
» 27 percent care for a parent or parent-in-law
» Survey participants report their average stress level is 6.3 on a 10 point scale
» Caregiver support groups, training for caregivers and occasional respite were ranked as the three most important caregiver support resources that should be offered to Lompoc caregivers
» Four priority areas were identified: Caregiver self-identification, increasing awareness of existing resources, creating a centralized caregiver training and support center and providing cultural resources including the Hispanic community.
The final report and campaign information is online atwww.CaringTogetherLompoc.org.
Are You a Caregiver?
With self-identification as a critical step toward accessing available services, the Caring Together Lompoc campaign is based on images of people doing the caregiving activities most commonly reported by survey participants, such as assisting with household tasks, emotional and social support, transportation, managing finances and personal care.
The campaign website offers a caregiver stress quiz, links to self-help resources such as creating your own Care Map, links to existing local resources and email sign-up to receive helpful tips and information.
Local Resources for Employers
Caring Together Lompoc also provides local employers, healthcare providers and other organizations with free outreach materials to share with their employees, patients and clients.
These groups are also encouraged to request free on-site presentations and other education and information resources available through the campaign.
Another key finding from the needs assessment survey was the need for a trusted referral source.
In response, the LVMC Family Caregiver Support Network is in planning as a permanent hub for local caregiver resources. The project will be announced later this summer.
“The need for family caregivers in Lompoc, as with our entire country, is vast,” Costa said. “We cannot succeed as a community without their efforts. The vision of this collaboration, with generous support from the community through the Santa Barbara Foundation, is to make sure our caregivers are cared for and celebrated. We welcome everyone to get in touch and involved.”
— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing Caring Together Lompoc.