How Seniorlink is Supporting Live-In Family Caregivers Across the State of Georgia – Lisa Bennett, Director for Community Partnerships

As people age, they can often require assistance with daily activities and need support from a family member. In Georgia alone, there are 1.2 million family caregivers providing one billion hours of care. Our guest today, Lisa Bennett, is the Director for Community Partnerships at Seniorlink. Seniorlink coaches live-in family caregivers of individuals with disabilities and older adults to avoid burnout and give them the support they need throughout the caregiving journey.

Transcription:

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Welcome in to the show, Lisa, thank you so much for joining us today.

Lisa Bennett:
Thank you so much for having us, Jim.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure.

Lisa Bennett:
I’m so excited to be recognizing the caregivers across the state of Georgia.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah, for sure. So I’d love for our viewers to get to know a little bit about you and then tell us a little bit about Seniorlink.

Lisa Bennett:
Certainly. So I come from years of experience working in community engagement in order to support our elderly and disabled individuals in the community. Prior experience, I worked in an institutional setting with nursing facilities for individuals who were no longer able to remain in their homes, and now I’ve transitioned to Seniorlink which really helps to empower family caregivers to support their loved ones in the community. So definitely a different type of model of care for families to seek for their loved ones. And I have a lot of personal experience as well, where I grew up watching my mother care for my grandmother in our home and another grandmother who actually was in a nursing facility. So I’ve seen both of it throughout my adolescence. And then, had caregiving responsibilities of my own. So, caregiving is definitely a passion of mine which is why I’m so happy to be working for Seniorlink who really are starting to recognize these selfless heroes across the state of Georgia.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Yeah, that’s fantastic. I love those comments, Lisa, is it really about family caring for family and you just shared that your company supports family caregivers. Can we talk about the topic of caregiving for a moment and tell me why caregivers need extra support? Aren’t they getting help already from the healthcare system?

Lisa Bennett:
Certainly. So, across the state of Georgia, they’re actually are over 1.2 million informal family caregivers caring for their loved ones in the home. Half of those actually are caring for loved ones who have some form of dementia or Alzheimer’s, which has a whole other level of difficulty as being a caregiver. And so these caregivers have been providing this care because, well, I’m a daughter just caring for my mother, because my mother cared for me when I was young and now it’s my turn. And so they do it out of love and they really don’t consider themselves to be caregivers. And so we are now trying to make a national movement in order to empower these informal family caregivers, to give them the guidance and the support that they need.

Lisa Bennett:
And so Seniorlink 20 years ago started to add these caregivers into the healthcare puzzle, if you will. And just recently, actually it took a national level where the RAISE [Family Caregivers] Act was announced, which is really bringing together entities from across the country to recognize the caregivers that are out there. And so Seniorlink came into Georgia actually and was the first launcher of this service actually in 2019. And so those caregivers across the state now really are starting to receive the supports that they need. And they’ve been doing it either with little or no support up to this point.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure. Now that we’ve defined who a caregiver is, how does Seniorlink help these caregivers? Or what did you call them? Selfless heroes. I like that very much. So tell us more about that.

Lisa Bennett:
Certainly. So Seniorlink provides a program that’s called Structured Family Caregiving in the State of Georgia. And through that program, a caregiver who lives in a home with their loved one and just provides their care all throughout the day, they now can receive coaching support through an experienced care team that can help to be by their side and provide them with wraparound support throughout the day when you never know when a question is going to come up. So maybe my mother has a diagnosis of diabetes. What do I do? What do they eat? And as those questions come up, our experienced care teams are there to answer those questions and to support them. And so the other piece of this also is a lot of caregivers, in the state of Georgia you cannot work a position outside of the home when you’re involved in this program. And so we actually provide them a financial stipend payment in order to provide them some supplemental income as they’re providing care for their loved one.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Wow. That’s fantastic. It does sound like a great program, but I know in general, people have nursing aides and personal care attendance come in. How is this program different from that?

Lisa Bennett:
So, we’re definitely happy that there are now a lot more services that are available for family caregivers, there are some family caregivers who may not be able to quit their job and may not be able to live in the home with their loved one. And so those personal aid services are really there if you need maybe a couple hours a day for somebody to come in and provide hands-on care for your loved one. And so those are needed, but sometimes you have a family member who says, hey, I’m already providing this care on my own outside of those couple hours, I just need the supports and the additional resources to do so. So now I’m going to move my loved one into the home with me, and I’m going to be there for them and by their side.

Lisa Bennett:
And to give you an example of a real-life story actually in the state of Georgia, we have a caregiver by the name of Jade whose father has diabetes, arthritis, some other concerns in the home, and he was wheelchair-bound, and he was going through some physical therapy in the home. Well, they actually discharged the therapy and she had no place to turn, she didn’t have any other resources in the home, it was just her, and she didn’t know what to do necessarily.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Sure.

Lisa Bennett:
They got him on Structured Family Caregiving. And we came into the home to help her throughout the day to answer her questions, to provide her the education and the resources to do so. And so now when we go back and we speak to this family who’s been with us for quite some time in the program, then she just says, Seniorlink was there by my side, when I had the questions, I was never alone throughout the journey, my coach was always there.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Wow. That’s fantastic.

Lisa Bennett:
So, it’s definitely, that’s what the program is meant for.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s fantastic. So do caregivers pay for this program out of their own pockets, or does their health plan cover the cost of this?

Lisa Bennett:
So as long as the individual care recipient in the home is eligible for what we call the elderly and disabled waiver, Medicaid waiver program in the state of Georgia, then they are eligible for this program. So there’s no out-of-pocket expenses, you just have to qualify for the elderly and disabled waiver program.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Okay.

Lisa Bennett:
And then once that care recipient is eligible, structured family caregiving is a service option through that model.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
Wow. That is fantastic. This is something that is much needed, it’s been a long time coming and Seniorlink’s got it. How can our listeners learn more about Seniorlink and see if this program is right for them?

Lisa Bennett:
Certainly. So you can reach us through our website, which is www.seniorlinkga.com. And actually, before I go as well, I want to give some recognition for the upcoming National Family Caregiver Month, which is in the month of November. And this is really just a time to give some additional recognition to a lot of these selfless heroes who are providing this care. So I just want to say thank you to every son, daughter, any family member that’s out there providing the care, whether it be past, present, or future.

Jim Fitzpatrick :
That’s fantastic. And for those of you listening to this conversation today, if you want to learn more, you can also click on right underneath this video and we’ll connect you to the necessary website. So Lisa Bennett, Director of Community Partnerships at Seniorlink. Thank you so much for joining us on the Atlanta Small Business Show. I know that our viewers and subscribers will get a lot out of your visit here today. So thank you.


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