Study on Reliance on Caregivers; Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center RespondsFebruary 03, 2017
There are over 40 million caregivers in the United States. Each day, these caregivers help a loved one with their every need. Often times, these caregivers have a full-time or part-time career, raise children, or both. Financial, emotional and physical stress is placed on these caregivers when they don’t have the necessary guidance, help and support.
A New York Times article, “Who Will Care for the Caregivers?” sheds light on this important issue by discussing a study from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The study suggests that society’s reliance on a volunteer army of family helpers— largely taken for granted — is unsustainable. Marian Hamilton, Founder of the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at Northern Westchester Hospital, couldn’t agree more.
"This article hits upon so many of the staggering issues facing the family caregiver. It is essential that voice of this "silent patient," the family caregiver, is heard more loudly and that they are provided with more services for themselves," says Hamilton. More than ten years ago, Hamilton found a way to give caregivers the help that she couldn’t find throughout her husband’s illness.
In 2005, Marian Hamilton approached Joel Seligman, President of Northern Westchester Hospital. She made a presentation to his administrative team about creating an oasis for the family caregiver to recharge and find resources and support. “I’m so proud that this hospital embraced patient and family engagement and the need for caregiver support over 10 years ago. The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center provides critical support to family caregivers in the hospital and in the community day after day. Growing responsibilities and the toll it takes on caregivers highlight the need for such support,” says Hamilton.
Marian Hamilton founded the Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center at Northern Westchester Hospital to care for the caregiver. Led by a social worker, highly trained volunteers (many of whom were caregivers themselves) meet with family caregivers and listen to them. After carefully listening to the situation, they can address the caregiver’s needs. That might entail helping them navigate the Hospital, explaining terms, addressing discharge concerns, discussing end of life concerns or more simply, being by their side in a particularly difficult time as a non-judgmental set of ears. The KHCC even helped plan a wedding for two families during their loved one’s stay.
The New York Times article stressed the importance of engaging, supporting and educating caregivers. Having counseling, education and support services, like the ones offered at the KHCC, help keep the family caregiver healthy by meeting their emotional and physical needs.
The Ken Hamilton Caregivers Center is a program that has proven to be highly successful and is now replicated in 11 other hospitals around the country. It addresses a critical need that went unrecognized for so long. It’s important that caregivers feel comfortable speaking up about their needs, and asking for information on services available in their area. The KHCC help connect patients and their family caregivers to the services they need.
“Caregivers are a silent population in this country. Over 65 million people–29 percent of the population– are currently providing care to a loved one.” While this study suggests that society’s reliance on the family caregiver is unsustainable, Hamilton believes that reducing the burdens on the family caregiver may turn it around.
Back to news