The BRI Care Consultation program provides invaluable resources and comfort to caregivers and their loved ones.
- Posted on Mar 19, 2019
Caregiving has never been more important. An estimated 43.5 million people provided caregiving services in 2015, according to data collected by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the American Association of Retired Persons This number is projected to grow in the coming years.
As more people step into caregiving roles, the need for resources and training is growing rapidly. That’s why the Ben Rose Institute (BRI)—a nonprofit founded over 100 years ago with the goal of financially assisting low-income older adults—created a care consultation program to support and equip caregivers with the tools they need to help their loved ones thrive.
The BRI Care Consultation program, which evolved from decades-long research and program testing by the organization’s Center for Research and Education, is designed to fill a gap experts noticed in the caregiving community.
“BRI Care Consultation came out of the research side of our practice,” said Lisa Weitzman, administrator for the program.
The resulting curriculum has been approved as an evidence-based program by the Association for Community Living and by the National Council on Aging.
“BRI Care Consultations is a telephone-based care coaching program,” Weitzman said. “People come to us for help because they feel like their lives are out of control and one thing that we can really do is help them feel like they've regained control.”
Instead of delivering directives and providing care consultants to fix these problems for the caregivers, BRI utilizes what Weitzman called a “person-centered approach.”
“We design action steps for [the] family,” Weitzman said. “Some of [the action steps] are done by the care consultant but the hope is that most of them are actually done by the family members.”
Beyond creating individual action steps for the caregiver, BRI Care Consultation also works to identify other resources and support services for the family. As a research organization with strong ties to the academic community, BRI helps caregivers access vetted information.
BRI has trained and licensed 50 organizations around the country to deliver BRI Care Consultation. Weitzman has heard many stories of how the program is assisting family caregivers. One story that particularly stuck out to her was of a caregiver who had to quit her job in California to move to Ohio to take care of her mother. When she arrived she found the housing situation was not ideal and she struggled to navigate difficult family conversations.
“That's when she called us here at BRI Care Consultation,” Weitzman said. “We were able to help her find the right housing environment for her mom. In order to do that, we [provided financial] guidance on Medicaid and…connected her with an elder care attorney in the Cleveland area.”
But the services didn’t stop at her mother’s living situation. BRI Care Consultation also provided relational support for the family.
“We also had a lot of important conversations with the family around what is that caregiver doing for herself to help alleviate some of that stress and make sure that she is taking care of herself so that she can continue to care for her mom,” Weitzman said.
One of the most powerful things about the program is that it works most effectively for the most vulnerable families. Weitzman said participants in the program report lower rates of depression and stress.
“It works great for long distance caregivers who may not know all the resources available where their loved one is living,” Weitzman said. “Our services are provided in the comfort and privacy of their home. There’s no time wasted in a waiting room.”
BRI Care Consultation comes in three month packages and families are guaranteed a minimum of five contacts from the care consultant team. Most importantly, the program is focused on the entirety of caregiving, from financial resources to locating medical resources to effective self-care and everything in between.
“We're not just focusing on the physical aspect or the tactical aspects of caring for a loved one,” Weitzman said. “We look holistically at all different areas of life that are impacted by chronic health conditions.”
This story was written in partnership with the Ben Rose Institute.