Bloomfield's Caregivers 101 Grant Best Practices
Lucille Morisse, a geriatric social worker, moderates the monthly meeting of the Family Caregiver Support group at the Marilyn Michaelson Senior Center of Bloomfield. During meetings, the patient and knowledgeable Lucille draws out the concerns and issues of folks who spend a lot of their time caring for others - usually older relatives – and advises them on possibilities that might help them resolve issues.
Aging, she explains to one attendee concerned about her husband, is a process that can be full of many kinds of losses. As we age, we lose mobility, memory, direction, speech, even the ability to metabolize food.
One sunny day in mid-July Lucille spent the early part of the afternoon advising attendees on a range of things, from the need for nightlights to information about day care for an attendee whose husband has the early stages of Alzheimer’s.
Mara Whitman, librarian at the Wintonbury Branch of the Prosser Public library, was Lucille’s reason for being there that day. Mara applied for and was awarded a grant from the Family Caregiving 101 web site with funding provided by the National Family Caregivers Association and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Part of her activity so far has been to sponsor the support group.
While Lucille and Mara brainstorm about day care possibilities for their charge, they discuss the differences between the programs: pros and cons like the level of care and cost. Though their attempts to telephone the different locations for answers meet with mixed results, the woman seems touched by their willingness to help.
This woman came away with a better general understanding and also some information about state programs that might help her to pay for it, and it seems like she needed it. Tears and upset are familiar to Lucille when she helps folks deal with these life-shaking issues. For example, Lucille advised a woman not to argue with her husband about his misconceptions but to instead firmly and gently repeat information.
Mara offers some books, such as Medicaid and Nursing Home Costs, to the woman, and offers to meet with her before the next support group meeting.
Librarian Mara Whitman (l) and social worker Lucille Morisse (r) work together to create healthier family caregivers in Bloomfield, CT
Concerning the intersection of social work and librarianship, Mara seems grateful to be able to help people in a deeper way. “How can libraries do this without other professionals and caregivers?” she wonders, adding that “I feel like I need Lucille there. There’s no way to do this without her.” The expertise of social workers and the libraries’ ability to reach people seems a good match.
After the meeting, the learning continues for Mara and Lucille, who discover that meetings are best held on the half-hour (not the hour) due to the bus schedule. They also hammer out the dates, times, and content of the next couple of meetings so that these can be included in the Senior Center’s newsletter, a print publication that reaches hundreds of people in the target population each month.
This Family Caregivers event was covered in The Journal (serving Bloomfield, Blue Hills, Windsor, Windsor Locks, & East Granby) on July 10, 2009. ‘Senior Center, Prosser to Host ‘Caregiver’ Talks.’ Mara’s next meeting is scheduled for August 17, and on September 15 she has coordinated a Caregiver Support Panel Discussion to include herself, Lucille, an APRN ,and a representative from an assisted living community.