Are You Supporting Seniors and the People Who Care for Them?
A new assessment aims to help local governments and senior-focused organizations shore up services for family caregivers.
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - May 11, 2021 - PRLog -- Is your town or organization helping seniors to comfortably age in place by supporting the daughters, sons, siblings or spouses who care for them?
The Caregiver Friendly Communities Assessment, rolled out this spring by the Area Agency on Aging 1-B, aims to help senior-focused organizations and local governments up their game when it comes to helping caregivers do their jobs.
The 60-question assessment – the first of its kind in the nation -- asks participants to rank themselves in eight different categories that are considered critical to meeting the needs of a growing senior population and their caregivers. They include transportation, respite care, social and emotional support services, and more. The assessment provides real-world evidence of the strengths and weaknesses in the caregiving chain – and offers best practices for becoming more caregiver-friendly.
After taking the online survey, participants will immediately get a snapshot report of how they scored in these categories.
Along with a one-page summary that can be downloaded, participants will get suggestions for improvements. They can also check out a best practices section to help guide them in beefing up services, and link to a website that offers evidence-based training and programs for caregivers.
The Caregiver Friendly Communities Assessment is based on the walkability assessment Realtors use to "sell" a neighborhood. Communities that take the survey – and take action, if necessary – will be able to promote themselves as attractive for seniors and the family members who care for them. They may use the results to request more funding or advocate for more services for caregivers.
Representatives from 21 communities throughout Michigan road-tested the assessment before its launch in early April.
Julie Shaw, associate director of SAIL, Disability Network of the U.P. in Marquette, says the assessment pointed out gaps in services, some of them chronic such as transportation and the availability of direct care workers.
Still, "The information we received back from the survey was wonderful. For the last 25 years of my career I've tried to work on the gaps identified and verified for me, which made me happy to hear I'm on the right path," Shaw says.
Taking the assessment was a good way to check in, says Marsha Koet, senior division supervisor for Farmington and Farmington Hills.
"I felt proud when I did this, proud of the people we work with and how many services we offer," she says. "It's good to review what you're doing. There are times I thought, 'Could we do that?' We get so busy thinking about the seniors we forget to do programming for the caregivers."