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Sunday, February 25, 2024

Video series seeks to provide family caregivers with educational resources

The UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing took part in a collaborative project that created educational videos about wound care, mobility and more to assist caregivers in caring for family or friends at home

By SONORA SLATER — science@theaggie.org

Nearly one in five American adults are unpaid caregivers for a family or friend with health or functional needs, according to a 2020 report by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the National Alliance for Caregiving. Often, this can be very difficult and time-consuming — which is why the UC Davis Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing Family Caregiving Institute, in collaboration with AARP, created an educational series made up of videos and articles that seek to give family caregivers the resources they need to take care of their family members or friends at home. 

The idea for the project began with a study done in 2012 by the AARP called the Home Alone Study, according to Heather Young, a professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and one of the founders of the Family Caregiving Institute at UC Davis. The biggest finding of the study was that more than half of caregivers are now doing “medical nursing tasks.”

“The old way of thinking about caregivers was helping with bathing, maybe cooking a meal,” Young said. “It wasn’t very high tech, and it wasn’t very complicated. But what’s happened in the last decade is that people are getting discharged from hospitals much sicker and much quicker than they used to, and families are being asked to do a lot of things that nurses used to do.”

Tasks like administering injections, facilitating breathing treatments, checking blood sugar and giving medicines are a few examples of the jobs that family caregivers have, and are often unprepared to do.

“What happens is, you’re about to leave the hospital, and you’re taking someone home who is very sick, and someone comes in and says to you, ‘Here’s what you’ve got to do!’” Young said. “They give you a list and a bunch of things really quick, but you don’t have time to process it, to think about it and to be ready to actually do it when you get home.” 

Holly Kirkland-Kyhn, the director of wound care in the patient care services department of the UC Davis Medical Center, described the unpredictability of caregiving. 

“We do a great job when people are in the hospital, but when they go home […] there’s a huge area we need to work on, and they’re calling that transition of care,” Kirkland-Kyhn said. “We try to teach them how to do it here, but oftentimes something happens that you don’t expect.” 

After recognizing the gap in resources, Young said that the Family Caregiving Institute, along with AARP, the Family Caregiving Alliance and the United Hospital Fund, created a formal group called the Home Alone Alliance.

As a group, they then decided that the way they wanted to provide caregiving education was through video. 

“We looked at all the videos that are out there, and realized that they’re not teaching a family caregiver how to do it — they’re teaching a nurse how to do it,” Young said. “So we didn’t find resources for family caregivers to do these complicated nursing things. We’ve got about 42 videos now.”

Kirkland-Kyhn, who participated in making the educational series, shared what sort of content the videos focused on.

“It’s actually kind of basic things [like] how to get yourself from your wheelchair into your car,” Kirkland-Kyhn said. “It’s one of those things that you don’t really think about until you’re at home trying to figure it out.”

According to the AARP website, where the videos are published, there are video series on special diets, operating medical equipment, wound care, mobility, medications and more.  

“They’re based on what caregivers have told us are the most pressing issues for them,” Young said. 

From there, the project expanded into a partnership with the American Journal of Nursing through an article series directed at teaching nurses how to use the videos to teach people.

“We package the videos with an article that goes with them that tells [nurses] how to use the videos, and the evidence that goes with them,” Young said. “The videos are for consumers, the articles are for nurses, and then we also have resource guides for consumers.”

Young went on to talk about the Family Caregiving Institute’s partnership with AARP, and how it has helped make the video series more accessible.

“Our school of nursing has collaborated with the public policy institute for many years,” Young said. “We really like that partnership because we’re an academic partner and we have clinical expertise, and they’re a public-facing consumer organization. […] We can make research come to life together.”

She also emphasized another goal of the video series: recognizing the diversity present in caregivers.

“Caregivers [come] from all ages, and different racial/ethnic groups… We made a real point in this series to try to portray caregivers who are different kinds of caregivers to really reflect the diversity of who’s out there doing care,” Young said.

She then detailed why she thinks it’s important to devote time to making resources and support available to this group of people, and how being a family caregiver can affect a person’s whole life.

“I think it’s an invisible issue,” Young said. “It’s not nearly as visible to employers. It’s also a huge economic issue — if […] you have to reduce your work hours, or you have to not take a promotion at work because you’ve got these family demands, you won’t end up accruing the same amount of wealth in your lifetime. And then when you get to be old, you’ll have less financial means to support your own aging. So, it’s a lot of sacrifice.” 

Young also explained the generational cycle of care that caregiving can lead into.

“We also know that caregivers experience higher rates of depression, loneliness and health problems than the general population,” Young said. “So, in caring for someone else, you’re creating a person who’s going to need more help as well, unless we support them properly.” 

Written by: Sonora Slater — science@theaggie.org

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