NEW YORK (Sept. 24, 2014) – Montefiore Medical Center’s Caregiver Support Center has been selected by the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), the nation’s leading family caregiver organization, as one of the “25 Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement.” The CAN recognizes leaders in patient-centered care who are helping to improve the quality of life of caregivers throughout the country.
Montefiore is the first and only medical center in New York City to offer families and friends of patients an oasis like the Arthur D. Emil Caregiver Support Center within the hospital setting. The Center provides caregivers with emotional support and practical assistance as well as a quiet, private place to relax during their loved one’s hospitalization.
“We are honored to be recognized by CAN for the breadth of support we provide to the caregiver community,” said Randi Kaplan, LMSW, director, Caregiver Support Center, Montefiore Medical Center. “Montefiore is dedicated to helping caregivers meet the challenges of being the primary source of care for an ill family member, and we are proud to be recognized as a leading institution for patient and family support services.”
The Caregiver Support Center at Montefiore evolved as the hospital recognized that many caregivers were overstressed from taking on tasks they were not equipped to handle. To help caregivers cope with these challenges, Montefiore opened its first Caregiver Support Center in April 2011. The Center provides caregivers with a welcoming and peaceful environment where volunteers help with logistical issues and offer a hand to hold.
To ensure all caregivers who are feeling overwhelmed receive the support they need, Montefiore opened a second Caregiver Support Center at its Weiler campus. The newest Center features a peaceful atmosphere where caregivers conduct family meetings and consult with specially trained staff on navigating complex care issues. The Weiler Center works closely with the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Palliative Care, Medicine and Oncology departments. Montefiore’s vision is to one day have a Caregiver Support Center at all six of its campuses.
“When my wife had a stroke, we entered Montefiore’s doors without knowing anything about the hospital or what was going to happen to her,” said Henry Jacocks, caregiver to his wife Dolly. “The Caregiver Support Center helped me cope with the stress of being away from my home, and provided me with resources to help Dolly transition from one care setting to another. As someone with a military background, I always keep an eye out for the USO everywhere I go. Now, I’ll also be looking for support centers like this one.”
The Center is made up of volunteers and staff members throughout the hospital who help people handle the stress, anxieties and challenges of providing care to a loved one. Montefiore is selective in choosing volunteers for the Caregiver Support Center and has all volunteers complete a ten-session training program to learn critical skills, including how to identify caregivers in need of support, active listening techniques and more. The Center’s 22 volunteers have helped more than 4,000 caregivers with issues like finding a doctor to answer questions or tracking down someone to translate medical information.
Montefiore’s experienced staff is trained to support caregivers' needs, from listening to their concerns to offering assistance in navigating and connecting the caregiver to wider resources within both the hospital and community. The Center offers its resources in Spanish and English, as well as bilingual versions of its online caregiver resource library, such as The Next Step in Care website created in partnership with the United Hospital Fund. The site features a series of guides and checklists for family caregivers, designed to inform them about what to expect, how to communicate better with healthcare providers and how to plan safe and smooth transitions from hospital to home or rehabilitation.
"While Sheldon was being saved, I wandered the hospital in a daze - until I found the Caregiver Support Center,” said Linda Horn, caregiver to her husband Sheldon. “The Caregiver Support Center team, and the incredible group of volunteers held me together as I fell apart. Their warmth, kindness, resources and care got my daughter and me through the most difficult time we have ever had to endure."
Being recognized as one of the nation’s “25 Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement” by CAN elevates Montefiore’s innovative approaches to caregiver support. CAN encourages health systems across the country to learn from each of its named best practices and replicate noted models of care.
More information about the Arthur D. Emil Caregiver Support Center can be found in the complete report, Advancing Excellence: Best Practices in Patient and Family Engagement, available on the CAN website. CAN is a non-profit organization providing education, peer support, and resources to family caregivers across the country free of charge. The organization works to improve the quality of life for the more than 65 million Americans who care for loved ones with chronic conditions, disabilities, disease, or the frailties of old age.