UNC Charlotte researchers will soon offer virtual programming focused on education and community-building for caregivers supporting people with chronic conditions and disability.
The Caregiver TLC: Thrive, Learn, Connect program, which was made possible through a grant of $265,000 from The Southminster Community Fund, will be offered to community family caregivers in Charlotte and North Carolina.
Caregiver TLC: Thrive, Learn, Connect will allow caregivers to participate in evidence-based training to reduce stress and depression, improve management of care plans for care-recipients and refresh communication skills.
The new grant will also provide caregivers information about COVID-19 in an effort to reduce anxiety through training on how to be safe and provide guidance from medical and social professionals. Participants also will be trained strategies for maintaining connections with community members, family and friends.
“Research continuously shows that compared to non-caregivers, caregivers are at increased risk for higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health problems. Informal caregivers also tend to report higher levels of stress compared to non-caregivers and those providing dementia care to loved ones tend to report the highest levels of stress. Compared to non-caregivers, caregivers also tend to report lower levels of subjective well-being and physical health and more chronic conditions,” said UNC Charlotte professor Julian Montoro-Rodriguez, lead on the grant.
The program consists of six to eight virtual group sessions via Zoom. This will also allow caregivers to connect with one another and to receive ongoing support for themselves and their families at a community level.
“We view this investment of our charitable resources as an effective way to create solutions to support caregivers, which we know ultimately will improve not only their well-being, but those they are caring for,” said Southminster President and CEO Ben Gilchrist.
The group will also learn a core set of coping skills such as relaxation training, mood management through behavioral activation, strategies to manage challenging behaviors and caregiving-specific communication skills, according to Montoro-Rodriguez.
“Current research tells us that caregiving occurs among all generations, racial and ethnic groups, income and education levels, family types, and sexual orientation, so we need to make this program accessible to as many caregivers as possible, said Director of Philanthropy for Southminster Tracy McGinnis.
The goal is to have 30 caregivers complete the pilot program by summer 2021 with an additional 90 to complete the program at the two year mark.
Those interested in participating should contact Professor Julian Montro-Rodriguez.
A leader in the field of aging, Southminster is a non-profit, charitable life plan community, providing innovative living solutions to aging across a full continuum of care. Dedicated to overall well-being, Southminster embraces living life with purpose by valuing independence and privacy, inspiring creative passions, encouraging lifelong learning, and motivating each individual’s plan for wellness to its highest potential. For more information on Southminster, please visit www.southminster.org.