Spotlight on Innovation: Physician/AAA Partnership for Caregivers
We're highlighting cutting-edge programs and successful strategies of our 2017 Aging Innovation Award Winners with this spotlight feature. This week we shine a spotlight on Aging Resources of Central Iowa, winner in the Caregiving category.
Rather than waiting for caregivers to experience a crisis and seek assistance, medical practitioners involved in Aging Resources' Family Caregiver Program refer caregivers for individuals with dementia to the Area Agency on Aging.
The seeds of the Family Caregiver Program began about seven years ago when Aging Resources first reached out to two local neurological clinics to offer their clients and family caregivers support and information about the agency's services. Knowing that many people often need guidance about how to be an effective caregiver, Aging Resources built a relationship with medical providers to simplify the process through which they could refer clients to AAA resources.
“Caregivers are busy people who sometimes just keep doing it all because they don't have time to find another way of accomplishing everything,” said Kay Vanags, IR&A and Family Caregiver Supervisor at Aging Resources. “We decided to be pro active in locating them rather than waiting for them to find us.”
Upon receiving the referral, a Caregiver Specialist initiates a call to the caregiver, who may be overwhelmed with the diagnosis and uncertain where to turn for assistance. Caregiver Specialists address caregivers' concerns and share resources over the phone or in face-to-face meetings. Caregivers learn about the disease process and are connected with services and programs available to them. The program has evolved to also help people with disabilities find services to help them remain independent.
The positive outcomes of the program have helped the agency and clinics begin discussing new ways they can partner to improve caregivers' experiences and knowledge base. Aging Resources hopes to expand relationships to other local clinics this year.
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners!