If you talk to any staff member from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP), November is one of the most exciting months of the year. That’s because every November, CSP celebrates National Family Caregivers Month (NFCM).
The annual observance is a tradition of family caregiver organizations across the country. For CSP, it’s a time to give special recognition to the caregivers of our nation’s Veterans.
This year’s NFCM theme is #CaregivingInCrisis. It’s a timely theme, according to Jill DeBord, CSP’s acting national director. “Being a caregiver is never an easy task. And the perseverance of our caregivers during the pandemic is astounding. We’ve seen the strength, commitment and love our caregivers have for our Veterans. We want to thank them in a manner that’s fitting for their service.”
Typically, CSP celebrates NFCM through a host of events, including in-person activities. However, due to current precautions, CSP is bringing celebrations directly into caregivers’ homes through events held entirely through virtual platforms.
At the local level, CSP staff at VA medical centers (VAMCs) are hosting events like virtual yoga classes, resource fairs, painting parties and virtual book club meetings. Caregivers and Veterans can learn more about events held at their local VAMC by contacting their Caregiver Support Coordinator (CSC), using the Find my Caregiver Support Coordinator tool: https://www.caregiver.va.gov/support/New_CSC_Page.asp.
Education, fun and connection
Rebecca Bixler, a CSC in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, says she’s looking forward to her events. “We recognize how difficult it is to be a caregiver and hope that these events will not only provide our caregivers with education but an opportunity to have fun and connect with other caregivers.”
On a national level, CSP is using NFCM as an opportunity to help caregivers learn about the variety of available resources and services. On Nov. 12, CSP hosted a presentation via WebEx for caregivers of Veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Tips presented during Empowering Versus Enabling: PTSD and Caregiving can be found here: https://www.caregiver.va.gov/Tips_by_Diagnosis/PTSD.asp.
The second national event was held via Facebook LIVE on Nov. 19, which focused on CSP’s recent expansion of the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC).
Learn more about Comprehensive Assistance Program
The PCAFC is one of two CSP programs and offers caregivers of eligible Veterans a host of services, including education, support, a monthly financial stipend, and other resources. Caregivers and Veterans can learn more about the PCAFC at https://www.caregiver.va.gov/.
All caregivers of Veterans enrolled in VA health care have the option to participate in CSP’s Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS). This program doesn’t require an application, and it provides a variety of training, home and community-based care options, monthly education calls, peer support mentoring and more.
To learn more about PGCSS or CSP in general, contact your local CSC, visit https://www.caregiver.va.gov/, or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
Jill DeBord is acting national director for the Caregiver Support Program.