Westchester County has introduced a new initiative to train volunteers to become caregiver coaches. This is a unique way to volunteer your time to help local families and contribute to an innovative community project.
Few people are prepared to become caregivers to a disabled or elderly loved one, and people who are thrust into the role of caregiver often feel overwhelmed. A caregiver coach is someone who is trained by professionals to give individual support to family caregivers. This support can be essential to helping caregivers understand their responsibilities and make informed decisions.
The Livable Communities Caregiver Coaching (L3C) Program is an initiative of Westchester County’s Department of Senior Programs and Services. The program aims to form a corps of volunteers who have been trained in caregiver coaching skills and can provide services to family caregivers. The initiative is part of an overall goal of supporting seniors in living with dignity and independence in their own homes.
Westchester’s caregiver coaching program is the most comprehensive in the nation, which is appropriate for the county with the fastest-growing population of seniors in the country. Today one in five Westchester residents is age 60 or older, and the majority of these seniors have a disability of some kind. It is estimated by the Westchester planning department that by 2030, people over the age of 60 will represent 25 percent of the county’s population.
Anyone may volunteer to be a caregiver coach. Experience as a caregiver is helpful but not necessary. The ideal caregiver coach is an empathetic, nonjudgmental person who wishes to help others. Volunteers will receive approximately 12 hours of training spread over three weekly sessions. A one-year commitment is required. Coaches will also participate in a monthly conversation where challenges and information will be shared about caregiver coaching experiences. Coaches will learn about the aging process and the responsibilities that caregivers face, as well as how to convey factual information clearly. As caregiver coaches, volunteers will share information and listen to caregivers’ concerns, while refraining from offering legal or medical advice.
If you are interested in volunteering to become a caregiver coach, contact the Department of Senior Programs and Services at 914-813-6441.