In Jan. 13 IssueBy John ThompsonTimes Journal Reporter
Local agencies have united in an effort to act as a resource for caregivers who care for the sick, disabled, and elderly in Russell County.
Beginning this month, a coalition of Russell County Hospital's Senior Life Solutions, Lifeline Home Health, Russell Springs Active Day, and LCADD Family Caregiver program will begin a new program aimed at educating those who find themselves in the position to have to care for loved ones in need.
The new effort, Caregivers in Action, will hold their first meeting Friday, January 21, at 11:30 a.m. at the South Kentucky RECC building on N. Main St. in Jamestown. Anyone who is either currently or will be providing caretaker services is invited to attend the free meeting. Lunch will be provided and a door prize will be given away. Anyone interested is asked to call 270-866-4546 for reservations.
Mary Bailey, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor for Senior Life Solutions, an agency dedicated to helping senior citizens cope with the challenges that accompany aging, is excited about the new outreach.
"We're inviting other agencies and programs to be sponsors with us to help inform others of all the programs and resources available to caregivers," Bailey said.
This month it will be Kelly McCormack of Consumer Directed Option (CDO), a division of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Human Services, to talk about the possibility of caregivers being able to be paid for the services they provide while keeping the loved one in need at home.
"With so many folks turning 65 every day and everyone living longer now thanks to diet, exercise, and newer medications, people are needing more options including keeping family members at home if that's what they want," Bailey said.
More than 80 percent of all home health care is provided by a family member.
In the past, this role and the importance it plays in a stable society has often been overlooked. Often, compensation for home caretaking was only for outside help or agencies and family members were often neglected or denied financial help. Sometimes the result is elderly, sick, or disabled persons are displaced rather than having the security of a known habitat while the caregiver worked.
At each monthly meeting someone from the four parent organizations will be available to answer any questions or to provide further assistance. "In the Caregivers in Action support, Home Health will have someone there who can talk about the services they offer which are so many services like cleaning house, prepare meals, so many services that go beyond direct medical care. But beyond Home Health were hoping to get several other programs on board as well," Bailey said.
Lifeline Home Health is one of the members of the coalition bringing the monthly meeting. Russell Springs Active Day is a care center alternative to institutional care is another. Their focus is on providing health care, activities and opportunities for socialization in a day care setting while caregivers work or perform other duties or enjoy personal time.
Lake Cumberland Area Development District's (LCADD) is a quasi-governmental agency focused on identifying needs within the community and ways in which to fill those needs. In this particular instance, through the national Family Caregiver Program, LCADD provided a grant that allowed for a pooling of resources in order to better inform the public of services available and to help caretakers in the utilization of these programs.
Senior Life Solutions, the agency that Bailey represents, is sponsored by Russell County Hospital. They focus on mental health treatment as a part of a multi-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, therapists and caring staff to deal with issues that often go along with aging, such as dealing with loss of autonomy, depression that accompanies coping with losses and changes in health or mental abilities. Their confidential services provide group, individual, and family therapy as well as medication management for behavioral health diagnosis.
Future ideas for lunch meetings will be to have a financial estate planner to give caregivers guidance on planning for the estate of those stricken; also representatives from various organizations, such as someone from the National Parkinson Foundation to talk about the consequences of Parkinson's disease for sufferers of all ages.
Before their first public meeting Caregivers in Action are already planning a "Caregivers Day Out" event for sometime in September, "that will be a full day of free manicures, haircuts, all kinds of services to pamper the caregiver," provided by local businesses in town who would donate, said Bailey.
Bailey said the newly offered program would offer opportunities for caregivers an opportunity to learn of services, new techniques, feedback, and support from fellow caregivers. "We're really excited that we received this grant to be able to help all those that help care for others," Bailey said.