North Carolina-based Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County (HPCIC) has partnered with a local technical school to develop educational videos for family caregivers.
Students at Iredell-Statesville School’s Career Academy & Technical School (CATS) worked in tandem with HPCIC to produce eight caregiver training videos aimed at supporting families with serious and terminally ill loved ones.
The educational videos are intended to help ease some of the anxiety and fears that home caregivers often experience when caring for medically fragile patients, according to HPCIC CEO Michael Smith. Smith took the helm at HPCIC last year upon the retirement of previous CEO Terri Phillips.
“Most often, patients prefer to be at home when dealing with a terminal illness, but this can bring on anxiety and fear for the caregiver,” Smith said in an announcement. “The goal of these videos is to give our community another tool they can use to confidently care for their loved ones and alleviate that anxiety and fear, regardless of whether they are a HPCIC hospice patient or not. These videos are for the community, and we truly hope they find them valuable.”
Established in 1984, HPCIC serves patients across 10 counties in North Carolina. The community-based provider offers care in the home, at hospitals and in assisted living or skilled nursing facilities in the region. Inpatient care is provided through two locations: the Gordon Hospice House and the S. Mitchell Mack Hospice House. The organization also offers palliative care services through its Pathways Palliative Care Program.
The caregiving videos are available for free and recently launched on HPCIC’s website. CATS students provided film, animation and graphic design support for the caregiver series. Topics include fall prevention, pain and symptom management, bathing, incontinence, patient safety and decreasing anxiety, as well as wellness care for caregivers, among others.
Caregivers face an array of logistical challenges and often lack the resources and support needed to care for loved ones in the home at the end of life. Meal preparation, housekeeping and caring for patients’ non-medical needs can leave a heavy burden.
Nearly 53 million people assist family members or other loved ones in maintaining health, quality of life, and independence due to aging, disability, or a chronic health condition, according to the Administration for Community Living (ACL), a sub-agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Services to support these caregivers are largely a “patchwork” and difficult to navigate in the health care system, according to Mollie Gurian, vice president of home-based and HCBS policy for LeadingAge.
But the needle may be moving towards improvement, Gurian said.
“A current focus is promoting broader expansion of respite care in hospice, as well as policy changes that would ensure people who do not have a caregiver can access inpatient hospice so they can have care services,” she previously told Hospice News.
HHS last year unveiled the National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers, which included nearly 350 actions the federal government plans to better assist those who care for seriously ill loved ones. The strategy also included 150 recommendations that could be adopted at state and local levels or in the private sector. Among the strategy’s main objectives are increasing awareness and outreach to family caregivers, strengthening services and supports, and ensuring caregiver’s financial and workplace security.
The need to support family caregivers has become “an urgent public health issue,” exacerbated by the long-term effects of the pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This national strategy recognizes the critical role family caregivers play in a loved one’s life.”