Caregivers living in rural communities face unique challenges in providing care to loved ones. Fewer formal services, a lack of medical specialists, transportation difficulties, weather problems in winter, geographic distance and isolation can impact caregivers.
Experts in rural health care agree that the general population in rural areas tend to have a greater likelihood of health problems because of lower income and less health insurance coverage. In California, rural residents are more likely to be older and poorer than people in other areas of the state, according to a report in the California Journal (April 2001).
To help identify and meet the education needs of those family caregivers who live in rural communities, FCA is pleased to announce a grant from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation.
In partnership with Mountain and Del Oro Caregiver Resource Centers and the Northern Sierra Rural Health Network (NSRHN), the Northern California Rural Caregiver Education Collaborative grant will serve those living in the 30,000 square mile area of Northern California that borders Oregon and Nevada.
The goal of the project is to build a collaborative network of health, home and community based service providers, educational institutions, technology networks, community organizations and caregivers to expand the capacity of existing systems, and provide high quality education and training to underserved rural caregivers.
The two-year project will use technology (videoconferences and teleconferences) as well as in-person training to improve the well-being of the sometimes isolated families caring for adults with chronic illnesses. It focuses on three areas:
Practical caregiving skills to increase competency of caregivers in providing hands-on care to the patient
Care management skills to increase the ability of caregivers to access health and community based service systems
Self-care skills to meet the physical and emotional needs of the caregiver.
Evaluation for the project will be conducted by a team from the Kansas University Medical Center, Health and Technology Outreach Center who are recognized in part for their expertise in evaluating rural health issues addressed through the use of technology.
Leah Eskenazi, M.S.W., the rural caregiver grant project manager, said responses to an education needs assessment survey confirmed that caregivers are hungry for care-related information and support. From Tulelake to Graeagle and Cedarville to Greenview, caregivers and service providers weighed in with education topics and comments about the grant effort: “I’m happy that people are really starting to care” and “Go for it! Classes very needed,” summed up the sentiments of many respondents.
Classes by phone (teleconferencing) are underway and classes using the NSRHN telemedicine system will begin this spring. A forum convening community providers from throughout the area will also be held in the spring.
For more information, contact Leah Eskenazi at FCA, (800) 445-8106.
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