The Support for the Caregiver Center
BY KAREN KOVAN
The services that Yad Sarah offers to those with a physical challenge or an illness are well known including, but not limited to, home oxygen supplies,medical supplies, legal aid, transportation and the lending of specialized equipment . However, the services available to the caregiver of the patient are newly established and continue to evolve and expand.
The Caregiver Center was created in January, 2011 with the mission to assist the caregiver in overcoming the difficulties of caring for a spouse, parent, relative or friend. It is crucial to keep the caregiver healthy, both mentally and physically, in order for them to properly care for the patient and keep the patient in the home setting as long as possible. It is a joint project of Yad Sarah and Eshel. It also operates in cooperation with services in the community, including municipal social services, health maintenance organizations and others, such as Reut-Eshel, which gives counseling on the topics of aging, rehabilitation and geriatric nursing care.
The Center focuses on three major areas: information, support and respite for the caregiver, either one-on-one or through weekly group meetings.
A challenge that The Center is working on overcoming is informing the public of its existence. To this end, they are in contact with social workers, physicians, health organizations and all service areas of Yad Sarah. Efforts are underway to contact the various community centers and synagogues.
A goal of The Center is to reach as many caregivers as possible and make them understand that it is not only acceptable but necessary to seek support and take some time for themselves. Currently, the outreach is within the greater Jerusalem area but a center in Reshon Le Tzion is in the process of opening and it is intended to expand to centers around the country.
Besides providing monthly lectures and weekly group meetings, trained volunteers will visit the home of the caregiver who feels that they cannot leave. There was a case recently where the caregiver would not leave her husband who suffered from dementia even though a full time nurse was present. She feared he would become confused and upset. The volunteer slowly persuaded the wife, after several visits, to move their meetings from the bedroom to the living room to the kitchen to the park to the coffee shop and eventually, to the support group. It gave the caregiver a brief respite from the overwhelming responsibility of caring for a loved one. That respite, according to the caregivers, changes their attitude and gives them the skills and emotional support they need to survive.
When the patient passes away, the caregiver can continue meeting the support group and eventually, get referred to a group more appropriate for the situation. The social security system can advise the bereaved as to an appropriate group based on their situation. There are also short term groups for the younger people.
The Center is located at Yad Sarah House, 124 Herzl Blvd, Jerusalem.
For further information or to direct a donation please call 02-644-4676 or e-mail