Founded in 1984, the California Caregiver Resource Centers are a network of 11 centers throughout California which serve family caregivers who are providing support for someone affected by chronic and debilitating health conditions including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, cerebrovascular diseases (such as stroke or aneurysms), degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, Huntington’s and multiple sclerosis, or traumatic brain injury (TBI), among many others.
Caring for a loved one with a cognitive disorder or another disabling condition forever changes the lives of families and caregivers. There can be devastating effects on those providing long-term care: financial pressures, legal quandaries, health problems, and emotional turmoil. Fortunately, the California Caregiver Resource Centers offer FREE support throughout the state, serving thousands of families and caregivers across income categories. To be eligible for services, a client must be caring for an adult with a cognitive impairing condition that occurred after the age of 18, or someone age 60 years and older in need of assistance with daily living activities such as, bathing, eating, or getting dressed. Every California resident has access to a CRC in their area.
THE CALIFORNIA CRC SERVICE MODEL
Each CRC is a service point of entry for caregiving families. Combined, the CRCs serve every county in California. Each center tailors its services to its geographic area, and each offers family caregivers a suite of core programs which may include the following:
- Specialized Information – Advice and assistance on caregiving issues and community resources—including CareNav™, a dynamic online service that delivers specialized information to family caregivers.
- Uniform Caregiver Assessment – Standardized assessment tools to help define and explore caregiving needs, interventions, and services.
- Family Consultation & Care Navigation – Individual consultations (in-person/phone) with trained staff to provide ongoing emotional support, connect caregivers with community resources, and increase understanding about care options.
- Respite Care – Financial assistance for brief substitute care (in-home support, adult day care services, short-term/weekend care, etc.) to assist families caring at home for an adult with a disabling condition.
- Short-Term Counseling – Individual sessions with licensed counselors, to offer emotional support and help with the strain of the caregiving role.
- Support Groups – Monthly meetings in a supportive atmosphere where caregivers share experiences and exchange ideas to ease the stress of caregiving.
- Caregiver Training – Individually tailored classes for caregivers on stress management, self-care, dementia, and other topics.
- Legal & Financial Consultation – Personal consultations with experienced elder law attorneys who are contracted to provide guidance on powers of attorney, estate and financial planning, conservatorships, and other complex matters.
- Education – Workshops for caregivers, community members, and professionals to help caregivers manage day-to-day care, plan for future legal/financial needs, promote well-being, and access available resources.
Unpaid family caregivers who contact any CRC receive a uniform intake and, if needing additional services, a uniform assessment that captures demographic information about the caregiver and care recipient, care recipient functioning (e.g., Activities of Daily Living, medical task assistance, behavioral issues if present), care planning needs (e.g., legal planning, advanced directives), financial status, and caregiver well-being (health, stress, depression, loneliness). At the completion of the assessment, a care plan is developed based on the preferences of the caregiver. A reassessment may take place on key measures six months after the assessment. Caregivers are able to receive support and services for as long as they are caregiving. Clients will also receive a uniform client survey to determine satisfaction with services.
The groundwork for the CRC system began as a grassroots effort in San Francisco in 1976, as the culmination of one community’s determination to respond to a major health care and social need. A small group of families who were caring for loved ones with debilitating brain-impairing illnesses formed a task force and held a town hall meeting in a church basement in San Francisco.
Since there was no local, state or national entity that addressed the needs of families and caregivers of adults with cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, Parkinson’s disease or traumatic brain injury at that time, the group identified that the urgency of the challenges they faced would grow exponentially as our population ages. Sustaining the services needed would require not only determination and perseverance on the part of the volunteers, but also legislative action to change and direct public policy.
The small task force was fortunate to have the support of then-Assemblyman Art Agnos, who in 1979, introduced legislation to establish a demonstration pilot project – at that time called Family Survival Project – to provide family support services for caregivers of brain-impaired adults in the San Francisco Bay Area. Assemblyman Agnos then authored legislation to replicate the pilot project in other regions, ensuring that all families in California had access to these much-needed services.
Signed by Governor George Deukmejian on September 30, 1984, the California Legislature passed the Comprehensive Act for Family Caregivers of Brain-Impaired Adults (Welfare & Institutions Code Section 4362 et. seq), thus establishing the statewide California Caregiver Resource Center network under the direction of the California Department of Mental Health.
In the two decades since, 11 CRCs have been established throughout the state to help the many families who, with love and dedication, choose to provide care for someone at home. Today, our nonprofit CRCs continue to provide a wide range of consumer-oriented, needs-based services to family caregivers across California.
HOW WE ARE FUNDED
The California Caregiver Resource Centers are funded by the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS).
Each center is also funded at the local level. Many of the CRC’s receive funding from the Older Americans Act (OAA) Title IIIE (Family Caregiver Support Program) and IIIB, local county contracts, private foundations and grants, local business partners and the generous donations from individuals.
THE ASSOCIATION OF CAREGIVER RESOURCE CENTERS
The Association of California Caregiver Resource Centers (ACCRC) represents the 11 regional nonprofit Caregiver Resource Centers (CRCs) that serve the estimated 5.5 million unpaid family and friend caregivers across the state.