Federal grant to help Phelps Health give hope, assistance to caregivers

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From left are Beth Geoit and Natalie Turnbough, Phelps Health care managers; Meghan Casteel, Phelps Health patient access resource coordinator; Susan Bowles, health careers coordinator with Mid-MO AHEC; and Franz Kindel, student education coordinator with Mid-MO AHEC.

Caregivers in Phelps Health’s service area and other regions in Missouri can be better informed, prepared and able to care for their own needs due to a federal grant.

According to Phelps Health in a news release, a $3.75 million five-year grant funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Senior Services was awarded to the Saint Louis University Geriatric Education Center Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. 

A.T. Still University’s Area Health Education Center Program Office, based in Kirksville, works with seven regional health education centers across Missouri to support and grow the healthcare workforce in the state. Phelps Health hosts Mid-Missouri Area Health Education Center, which covers 23 counties in mid-Missouri. 

A.T. Still University’s Area Health Education Center Program Office was a recipient and provided Mid-Missouri Area Health Education Center with over $8,600 for the caregiver project as part of the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program grant, which is used to create caregiver resource packets to provide self-help resources. 

According to Susan Bowles, health careers coordinator with Mid-Missouri Area Health Education Center, care management staff at Phelps Health will offer the packets and a Rapid Caregiver Well-Being Scale to caregivers and those interested in learning more about caregiving. 

Caregiver Resource Packets

Susan Bowles, health careers coordinator with Mid-MO AHEC, shows the information available in caregiver resource packets.

According to Phelps Health, packets will be given to caregivers of patients who require long-term care when the patients are dismissed to homecare. 

Bowles said that homecare is being used more, and many patients also have more complicated health issues. 

She said, because of this, caregivers are reporting an increase in physical and mental health discomfort themselves. 

“These packets will give hope and assistance to caregivers and help them address their own needs,” Bowles said. 

Each packet includes: 

• A magnet with caregiver tips and a phone number to Phelps Health if caregivers need assistance. 

• A flyer about compassion fatigue — emotional and physical exhaustion leading to a reduced ability to empathize or feel compassion for others — and ways to help caregivers with compassion fatigue. 

• A Missouri Senior Resource Guide.

• A Preparedness for Caregiving Scale survey has already been given to over 50 caregivers as part of this grant to help increase data about caregivers in Missouri. 

• A form to record vital information and questions for the healthcare team in one place. 

Bowles notes that professional healthcare providers, who also exhibit some stress, could use these resource packets. 

Rapid Caregiver Well-Being Scale

The Rapid Caregiver Well-Being Scale is given to caregivers during a patient’s doctor’s office visit or hospital stay. The well-being scale also can be given to caregivers when they have their own doctor’s appointments. 

Natalie Turnbough, care manager at Phelps Health, said the well-being scale is a one-page document that asks caregivers if their basic needs, including physical, emotional, and self-security, are being met. 

Turnbough said what she and other care managers or social workers learned by providing the well-being scale to caregivers was that it allowed the caregivers to express a lot of loneliness, isolation, fear and frustration they feel. Most caregivers said they had never had anyone ask them how they were doing. 

“It opened up a deeper dialogue between the care manager and the caregiver to discuss some of the barriers faced at home and address issues that may have caused complications in the discharge plan of their patient,” she said. 

Individuals can call 573-458-7383 to learn more about caregiver resource packets at Phelps Health.

Phelps Health notes that the project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under grant number U1QHP28716 Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program for $750,000 per year for five years. 

The information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of the Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services or the U.S. Government.