With an increase in the aging population and people living with chronic conditions, reliance on family caregivers to provide frontline health care is becoming increasingly common. At some point in our lives, we may be responsible for caring for an elderly family member. Such responsibility may come all of a sudden and last for many years, and many of us are not ready or prepared for this eventuality. As a social service agency that serves immigrants and their aging families, we noticed that many caregivers feel isolated, overwhelmed, and stressed. With limited or no formal training on caregiving, many soon burn out, becoming frustrated and depressed.
As an agency, we want to serve our clients better by learning how to prepare family caregivers for their roles. We have invited a family caregiver and a researcher to partake in this project and to form an advisory board that will operate based on the principles of community-based participatory research. Project activities include interviewing family caregivers to understand their needs and solicit their ideas about an 'ideal' training program. We will examine existing training programs to find out the best practices, expand our advisory board, and conduct meetings with important stakeholders to discuss family caregiver roles; present them with the results of a needs assessment; learn how their work relates to these issues; and invite them to join our research team. Through these co-learning activities, the advisory board will identify possible research questions and establish the infrastructure the research team will need to apply for Tier II funding.