Caregiver Telephone Reassurance Program
History of the Caregiver Telephone Reassurance Program
After the start of the pandemic, the Caring for the Caregiver program established a new service to support family caregivers. When in-person programs came to a halt, we felt it was important to call every caregiver in our database to check in and find out how we could continue to support them. Our team personally made phone calls to over 1,500 individuals, asking them about their experiences in the early weeks of the pandemic and what we might do to address their needs and concerns.
We learned quickly that while many people were interested and able to participate in virtual alternatives to our programs, there was a need to stay connected with those who couldn’t use online services. We also learned how important it is to check in on families proactively, rather than waiting on them to reach out to us first. Those initial calls at the start of the pandemic were the foundation for what would become the Caregiver Telephone Reassurance Program.
Description of the program
Through the Caregiver Telephone Reassurance Program, we now make calls to approximately 250-300 caregivers each month. Family caregivers in the Caring for the Caregiver database are paired with nursing and health professions students from UT Health San Antonio who connect with them by phone at least once a month for about 4-6 month periods.
Before making their calls, students are trained by the Caring for the Caregiver team and receive their Dementia Friends certifications. Students are provided a call guide to make sure every caregiver is checked in on and provided any information they might need at the time of the call. Notes from each call are reviewed by a member of the Caring for the Caregiver team who can provide additional support for more complex challenges that caregivers might be experiencing.
Caregivers often just want to share their experiences with students and other times they may request referrals to local resources like support groups or dementia friendly events. These calls support caregivers to be socially connected and to proactively connect caregivers to local and national resources. If there are questions that students cannot answer directly, a member of the Caring for the Caregiver team will reach out with a response to their questions.
How to sign up
To begin receiving reassurance calls, you can complete the contact form on our website. Caregivers are assigned to students twice per year, in the Fall semester (around August-September) and in the Spring semester (around January-February). Priority is given to caregivers living in the San Antonio and surrounding regions, though we welcome all caregivers to reach out to us.
Summer and winter hiatus
Every December and July, the Reassurance Program is put on a short hiatus while students are away. This gives us the opportunity to re-assign caregivers and add new caregivers to the program.