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Catholic Charities, Partners Embark on Collaborative Caregiver Initiative Designed to Expand Safety Net in Seven Counties

by Stephanie Brown

Service Network Includes Erie County Senior Services and WNY Alzheimer's Association

Fri, Dec 11th 2015 01:00 pm

Buffalo, N.Y., Dec. 11, 2015 - Catholic Charities of Buffalo and its eight partners are mobilizing for a January 1 start for the comprehensive Alzheimer's Disease Caregiver Support Initiative, the result of a $7.5 million award announced recently by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

Through the five-year grant, a focused, collaborative service network is being developed to support and impact caregivers of loved ones with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia across seven counties in Western New York.  The goal is to expand the safety net for caregivers by recognizing and addressing the need for supports and stress reduction strategies.

Catholic Charities is one of nine organizations across the state chosen for the award which totaled $67.5 million and will support family members who care for the nearly 380,000 New Yorkers living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementia. According to the NYS Department of Health, this state has the fourth highest number, at one million, of unpaid caregivers for persons living with Alzheimer's disease and their 1.1 billion hours of unpaid care carry an estimated value of $14 billion.

Members of the Western New York Alzheimer's Caregiver Collaborative, including Catholic Charities, which is leading the caregiver support initiative are Alzheimer's Association, Western New York Chapter; Erie County Department of Senior Services; Allegany County Office for the Aging; Cattaraugus County Department of Aging; Chautauqua County Office for the Aging; Genesee County Office for the Aging; Niagara County Office for the Aging; and Wyoming County Office for the Aging.

"We are grateful for the opportunity to lead this groundbreaking initiative, which demonstrates our strong commitment to older adults by providing crucial support to individuals who care for loved ones living with Alzheimer's disease," said Dennis Walczyk, Catholic Charities chief executive officer. "The joint efforts and the support of the eight important partners from across Western New York will ensure success for this network in addressing the evolving needs of caregivers and widening the scope of services available."

"The Erie County Department of Senior Services is excited to be working in a regional collaboration of dynamic human service agencies to serve caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's disease," said Randy Hoak, commissioner of the Erie County Department of Senior Services. "The impact of Alzheimer's Disease on caregivers and families can be crippling. Without help caregivers often experience health problems, depression, as well as significant financial and legal issues.  These funds will bring frontline staff the resources they need to assist these families in their time of need."

Leilani Pelletier, MS, executive director of Alzheimer's Association, Western New York Chapter, said,  "The Alzheimer's Association has been advocating for increased caregiver support resources for nearly 35 years and now, as the prevalence and impact of dementia of all types grows, so will access to services. The core education, care consultations, support groups, social connections, respite and social engagement we have been providing for so long in WNY will be multiplied in ways we could never have done on our own. This collaboration has my full faith that we have finally come to the start of a new era, where confidential, expert and face to face help is embedded fully in our community."

Jim Nowak, assistant director of Catholic Charities Department of Clinical and Aging Services, said, "Through this network we will be able to provide access to essential supports regardless of where a caregiver lives; we want caregivers to know they should not have to bear their burden alone. This is an opportunity to work toward delaying institutionalization and providing the highest quality of life attainable for both caregiver and loved one."                             

Five core services, including care consultation, family consultation, support groups, education and training programs, and respite, will be provided to improve the mental or physical well-being of caregivers.

The service areas will provide:

● Care consultation to the caregiver and family members, which incorporates personalized assessment, service plan development, troubleshooting and periodic updates. It considers and incorporates patient and caregiver needs, resource management, continuity in care, and links to community services.

● Family consultation provided by trained professionals and offering an opportunity to bring caregivers and family members together to discuss issues of common concern, strategies to address them and the opportunity to learn together in a safe, facilitated environment.

● Caregiver support groups designed to provide emotional support, information and resources for caregivers to share strategies, and lessons learned with other caregivers of individuals with Alzheimer's.

● Education and training programs, such as the evidence-based Powerful Tools for Caregivers class, will provide necessary information to enable the caregiver to navigate through the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

● Respite to deliver relief to caregivers who provide care and support to individuals with Alzheimer's disease by offering a temporary reprieve from the stresses associated with caregiving.

Staffing for the initiative will include an overall coordinator, a program developer to help create and sustain the services, two volunteer coordinators to recruit and maintain a volunteer corps, a liaison case manager within each of the seven counties to help coordinate resources for the caregiver support initiative, and two dementia education specialists within the Alzheimer's Association.   

Catholic Charities Older Adult Services provides seniors 60 years of age and older with options and solutions to be self-sufficient, socialize and thrive while remaining in their homes. Individuals in Erie, Genesee, Niagara and Orleans counties are served through a variety of programs including A Gathering Place, Comprehensive Care, Foster Grandparent Program, Home Visitation, Friendly Phones and Project HOPE.

In 2014, more than 500 older adults and caregivers received Catholic Charities services specifically designed to meet older adult needs.

For more information about Older Adult Services, please call (716) 896-6388. To learn more about Catholic Charities or any other services it provides, visit www.ccwny.org.   

The mission of the Department of Senior Services of Erie County is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.

The Alzheimer's Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Its mission is to eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.

In 2014, Catholic Charities served more than 142,000 people in need in Western New York. For 93 years, Catholic Charities has been making a difference for people of every faith and ethnicity in Western New York. Catholic Charities empowers children, families and seniors to achieve meaningful, healthy and productive lives. In all situations, Catholic Charities delivers support to meet immediate needs, and then assesses clients for other needs to ensure long-term success. It is the most comprehensive human service provider serving Western New York. Catholic Charities is an excellent steward of the contributions it receives.

Catholic Charities receives the highest-possible rating (four stars) from Charity Navigator for transparency and sound fiscal management, and the agency receives the highest ratings from the Council on Accreditation for quality service.

Check out Catholic Charities at ccwny.org, at facebook.com/ccbuffalo, twitter.com/ ccbuffalo and youtube.com/ccbuffalo.

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