The importance of caregiving through Community Memorial Health System

by Carol Leish, MA

“We believe that being a caregiver is one of the most important roles because the caregiver often acts as the advocate for the patient’s health, mental well-being and physical needs,” according to Maureen Hodge, LCSW, Program Manager of High-Risk Programs at Community Memorial Health System. “By including the caregiver in all aspects of their loved ones medical and health journey, our hope is that the patient can have a more stable outcome of services and support. Our Caregiver Navigator comes alongside the caregiver and provides a well-rounded service connecting them to programs and services that they might not otherwise have. It also provides regular check ins and confirms that their own needs are being met as they work with their love ones.”

As to expanding upon caregiver services provided by Community Memorial Health System, Hodge said, “Long term we would love a Caregiver Navigator to offer services be in our outpatient clinics and also be able to provide support for those families while a patient is in the hospital. Currently, we are operating the program with a grant from the Ventura County Community Foundation and only have one staff person. The Caregiver Navigator is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist. We would like to continue by providing clinical staff who will continue to provide resources. Some resources include: caregiver support groups and respite care. Multiple community agencies including: Ventura County Area Agency on Aging; An Adult Day programs through the Caregiving Resource Centers at the Camarillo Healthcare District; and, many more. We want to be a support and conduit to connecting our caregivers to programs. We also want to aid them along the way with a Licensed Clinical staff in order to help them through this often-challenging time.”

Janice Aharon-Ezer, LMFT, Caregiver Navigator said, “The Caregiver Navigator Program provides support and resources for mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives and friends caring for those they love. For the first time caregivers feel heard, supported and understood. They are more able to care for themselves while assisting those they love that have medical, psychological, substance abuse and developmental issues.”

“The main issue right now,” according to Hodge, “is that there are there are few programs to actually train caregivers and there is a shortage of paid caregivers through In-House Supported Services and other caregiver programs. No matter the demographics; ethnic background; or, financial situation one comes from, the cost of finding someone to provide caregiving as well as finding a qualified caregiver can be challenging.”

“The state of CA has made a concerted effort to begin addressing caregiving services through the Master Plan on Aging,” according to Hodge. “But we have a lot of work to still be doing. One of the planned ideas from my team at Community Memorial Health System is to host small focus groups with agencies and people that are providing some type of caregiving service and then later host a Caregiver Symposium. We are at the front end of dreaming about something like this. The numbers of caregivers needed will only continue to grow as the population ages, and our county can be a leader in this effort to help our caregivers. My hope is we can be a leader in this area as we work with thousands of families every day.”

Kristine Supple, Director of Population Health said, “We are committed to bringing high value, innovative programs to our patients in line with our mission to heal, comfort and promote health for the communities that we serve.”

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