When a person experiences a life-changing illness or injury, it effects not only the patient, but his or her family, friends and support system as well. Now more than ever, we understand the importance of caring for the caregiver, in addition to the patient. That’s why, in 2018, Burke will be opening the Marsal Caregiver Center, a dedicated on-campus Center specially designed to help meet the needs of caregivers. It will be only the 12th such hospital-based Center in the U.S., and the first of its kind in a rehabilitation hospital.
We talked with Colleen Borrelli, Vice President of Patient Experience, who is spearheading the initiative, to find out a bit more about the Center.
Why did Burke want to create the Marsal Caregiver Center on campus?
Burke is creating the Marsal Caregiver Center because of its commitment to expanding the definition of caring – beyond our primary patients to the care of their dedicated family members and loved ones. Caring for the caregiver can truly enhance the recovery of our patients; if caregivers are in a good place themselves, their positive attitude and reinforcement can inspire our patient’s commitment to recovery and help them adapt to new physical challenges or limitations.
So much of what we see and hear has to do with the patients themselves. Why is it important to take care of caregivers as well?
Research shows that the impact of being a caregiver can be enormous, especially in terms of the emotional and physical health of the caregiver. Higher levels of depression, diminished immune system functioning, increased susceptibility to colds and the flu, and even greater mortality have been correlated with the physical strain and mental stress of caregiving.
What kinds of resources will be available at the Center?
The Marsal Caregiver Center will be overseen by a licensed social worker who will manage a team of well trained volunteers: Burke’s Care Ambassadors. Together they will focus on supporting caregivers through active listening, companionship, education, and programs to alleviate stress. One-on-one meetings will be offered as well as family meetings, participation in support groups, classes on things like meditation and mindfulness, and access to information on everything from how to hire a home health aide to a list of wheelchair manufacturers.
When is the Center slated to open and what can we expect in the future?
The Marsal Caregiver Center is slated to open in the spring of 2018. We believe that the quality of the patient experience will be directly impacted by our decision to pro-actively service and support Burke caregivers. In the future, we expect to have hundreds of caregivers utilizing the center, which will be a truly beautiful, peaceful place of respite where the families and friends of our patients will be warmly greeted and encouraged to take advantage of all we will be offering to them as they navigate the often challenging journey of caregiving.