University of Southern California: Family Caregiver Support Center Receives Renewal Grant, Innovation Award

The USC Family Caregiver Support Center (FCSC) has received a five-year, $8.5 million renewal grant for the Los Angeles Caregiver Resource Center (LACRC) as well as an award recognizing its program serving Persian/Farsi-speaking caregivers.

The LACRC renewal grant from the California Department of Health Care Services comes as caregivers continue to face changes and challenges, said Family Caregiver Support Center Director and Research Associate Professor of Gerontology Donna Benton. Among the plans for the next five years: more education for caregivers providing hands-on care for individuals with complex health issues as well more flexible delivery options for support and education.

“The biggest thing that we’ve learned from our last pilot study is that our caregivers are providing more complex care,” said Benton. “We’re also finding that the caregivers are more likely to be working now. We’ll have a live component, but we’ll always make sure that there’s a way for them to go online and watch presentations on their own time. Almost everything for our caregivers is going to be a mix of in-person and recorded.”

Since 1989, the Family Caregiver Support Center, home of the LACRC, has provided support across the continuum of caregiving, including diagnosis, prognosis, services that help maintain the care recipient’s independence and abilities, and helping caregivers care for themselves and manage their own well-being. Supportive services include information, assessment, individual consultations, respite, education, and training.

Another upcoming goal for the FCSC is to create more programs tailored for specific cultural and ethnic communities to better serve caregivers within these communities. One such program, Ghofetegou Koneem for Caring Families (GKCF), was recently recognized with a 2022 Family Caregiver Services Innovation Award from the Los Angeles Alliance for Community Health and Aging.

GKCF was developed to help Persian/Farsi-speaking caregivers in Los Angeles reduce their burden and manage their daily role in caring for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. “Ghofetegou Koneem” means “talk to each other” in Farsi, a reference to the program’s informal, in-person support groups for caregivers. Interviews with caregivers and adult day health care staff helped FCSC experts develop appropriate communication and educational materials for caregivers as well as a tailored resource guide. The program is funded by the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and is a collaboration between the Family Caregiver Support Center and Sinai Adult Day Health Care.

“Caregivers are increasingly recognizing their importance and difficulty of their role, and learning that they are not alone,” Benton said. “The GKCF is an example of co-participatory program development. This method is more impactful than those developed without community input. In working directly with the caregivers, we can create appropriate educational materials, develop interventions with positive outcomes, and deliver additional benefits that would have not been possible without their involvement.”

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