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What kinds of support are most useful for caregivers helping their aging loved ones?

Finding how best to support family caregivers

Challenge

The National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) provides a range of assistance to people caring for an elderly parent, spouse, or other family member. This support can range from information about community services and resources to intensive assistance such as in-home respite, which provides help with bathing, dressing, and other personal care activities as short-term relief for caregivers.

In addition, NFCSP provides grants to states to support family and informal caregivers who care for their loved ones at home. The program is part of the federal government’s Administration for Community Living/Administration on Aging (ACL/AoA).

Westat is conducting an evaluation of NFCSP for ACL/AoA.

Solution

We are comparing two nationally representative samples of caregivers and care recipients—one that received NFCSP-supported services and a similar group that did not. The study will help ACL/AoA answer a range of research questions about the program, including:

  • Which approaches to delivering NFCSP services work best for program participants?
  • Are services targeted at families with the greatest economic and social need?
  • To what extent do NFCSP caregivers receive other home- and community-based support and services?
  • How do caregivers who receive NFCSP support gain access to non-NFCSP services?
  • In what ways are caregivers who get NFCSP support more or less successful than caregivers who do not receive NFCSP services?

Results

The purpose of the study is to determine the impact of the caregiver program on reducing caregiver physical, financial, and emotional stress (among other risk factors for caregiver burnout) and nursing home placement of the care recipient.

The evaluation will help guide how ACL/AoA develop policies and programs that respond to the growing importance of family caregiving.

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