Patient Education In the Department of Medicine
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Building Better Caregivers Online

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The Building Better Caregivers online program was developed and tested in a pilot study for the United States Department of Veteran Affairs for informal caregivers of people with traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, or other diagnosed memory impairments. Veterans or their caregivers in California, Southern Nevada and Hawaii were invited to participate.

Groups of about 24 caregivers participate together. Workshops are facilitated by two trained facilitators, one or both of whom are peer caregivers. Topics include: skills that may lead to stress reduction for caregiver and the care partner, self-care methods to improve caregiver's health, dealing with difficult emotions, managing difficult care partner behaviors, planning for the future, information about resources, and increasing communication skills.

It is the process in which the online workshop is presented that makes it unique. Sessions are highly participative through internal messaging and online discussion boards, where mutual support and success builds the participants' confidence in their ability to maintain active and fulfilling lives.

Each workshop is 6 weeks with new lessons each week. Participants are asked to log on at their convenience 2-3 times each week for a total of about 2 hours. There are no requirements that participants log in at the same time.

How was the Program developed?

The Stanford Patient Education Research Center received a grant form the United States Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) to develop and pilot test a program for caregivers of people with brain injury or impairment. Either the caregiver or the care partner were veterans. Using what was learned from our other online studies and information from the VA and caregivers, the workshop was developed using the Healthier Living With Ongoing Health Problems model.

How was the Program evaluated?

Sixty caregivers enrolled in the online Building Better Caregivers pilot program and study. Baseline and three-month questionnaires measured overall health, caregiver burden, depression, pain, stress, and self-efficacy.

What were the results?

Caregivers showed significant reductions in caregiver burden, depression, pain and stress. Caregiver self-efficacy and two exercise measures improved. The care partners' overall health improved. The program successfully reached rural residents and participation was high. The Building Better Caregivers program was acceptable to caregivers, whose health, emotional health and health behaviors improved. Caregivers successfully participated in the program.

Is the Program being offered?

The Building Better Caregivers program is licensed to the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and is being offered to U.S. Armed Forces veterans through the V.A. Caregiver Support Program . See the NCOA website for more information. If you are a participant and would like to take part in a workshop, please email va@buildingbettercaregivers.org.

 

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