Whether it's an ailing child, an aging parent, a sick spouse, friend or neighbor, the demands on caregivers can be draining physically, emotionally and sometimes financially.
Caring for the caregiver is now an integral part of the health care equation at Henry Ford Health System, which knows how crucial caregivers are in providing medical care after patients leave the hospital.
With the goal of supporting caregivers and in turn patients, Henry Ford is leading support groups in Wyandotte and St. Clair Shores, starting in October and November. They're among many caregiver support projects to be launched in metro Detroit and Michigan. Caregiver education classes began in September and are ongoing in Canton and Plymouth.
There are about 2 million unpaid family caregivers in Michigan. As the population ages and medical care given at home becomes more complex the number will grow.
“While caregiving comes from love and can be deeply rewarding, the caregiver may at times feels exhausted, alone, overwhelmed,” says Shawn Bennis, R.N. and Family Caregiver Coordinator for Henry Ford Health System. “Our support groups operate on the same principle as most support groups: People just need someone to talk to and to be listened to. Often, that makes life easier not only because of the emotional support it offers but because people living in similar circumstances can share very practical, helpful information and experience with one another.”
Henry Ford Health System has championed caregivers by being the only health care system in Michigan to testify on behalf of the CARE Act, a state law that affects all hospitals and aims to avoid unnecessary hospital readmissions and patient complications. The law provides a system where patients can designate a caregiver, and it requires hospitals to inform and explain patient home care needs to the designated caregiver. The hospital must also notify the caregiver of discharge and facility transfers.
Henry Ford has gone beyond the requirements of the law by launching a Family Caregivers Initiative, which includes the support groups and caregiver education classes as well as a website, www.henryford.com/familycaregivers, which provides resources and direction on a wide range of caregiver concerns and needs and other online and in-person support.
The first support group meets Oct. 20 at Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, the next on Nov. 14 at the Henry Ford Home Health Care office in St. Clair Shores. After that meetings are weekly.
- The Wyandotte support group will meet the third Thursday of each month from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. in Dining Room H, Henry Ford Wyandotte Hospital, 2333 Biddle Avenue, starting Oct. 20.
- The St. Clair Shores support group will meet the second Monday of each month from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Henry Ford Home Health Care Office, 25511 Little Mack, Suite B, starting Nov. 14.
Support group participants will determine the course of the discussions and what format works best while a facilitator guides the meeting.
Caregiver education classes, which are led by an expert and address specific caregiver concerns, are being offered in Plymouth and Canton.
- Oct. 19, 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Henry Ford Medical Center-Canton, 6100 Haggerty Road, the topic will be “Nutrition Tips for the Elderly and Disabled.”
- Nov. 16, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., also in Canton, “Caregiver Stress” will be addressed
- Nov. 15, Henry Ford Medical Center-Plymouth, 14300 Beck Road, “Advance Care Planning” will be discussed, also from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
- More topics to come. Go to Caregivers Resources for information on future classes.
Classes and support groups are free. Register by calling (313) 874-4838 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kim North Shine