How AAA1-B partnered with Mon Ami to deliver a caregiver coaching program


Family caregivers provide the backbone of care in America. The services of family caregivers have an estimated value of $275 billion annually and help to keep people living at home and out of institutions. Family caregiving can be a grueling responsibility, with high levels of burnout and fatigue. In this article, we learn how Area Agency on Aging 1-B (AAA1-B) in Michigan adapted a national Caregiver Coaching program model to their local community and used Mon Ami’s phone integrated technology to streamline its operations, similar to telephone reassurance or friendly calling programs. The result has been to provide increased one-on-one support to caregivers to help them make more informed decisions and feel greater confidence as caregivers. 

About AAA1-B and the Caregiver Coaching Program 

Agency Background
AAA1-B, established 1974, is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that provides aging services across six counties in southeast Michigan. A few years ago, it set out on a Reimagine Caregiving Initiative to transform the informal and family caregiver support infrastructure in Washtenaw County. 

Overview of the Caregiver Coaching Program 
After considering its options, AAA1-B selected to implement the Caregiver Coaching Program, which was developed previously through a partnership between Westchester County, NY senior services and faculty at Fordham University. The Caregiver Coaching Program’s goal is to develop a corps of volunteers who can provide support and information to individual family caregivers, and for caregivers to understand the options available to them. It is a free program that matches people caring for an aging or disabled loved one with a compassionate, trained volunteer who works with them one-on-one. 

The Caregiver Coaching Program is a completely phone-based program that intends for participants to connect once or twice a month. In addition, there are quarterly surveys for caregivers. 

For AAA1-B, the Program had several advantages: 1) As a volunteer program, it was more cost-effective and scalable for a nonprofit organization to implement, 2) As a virtual one-on-one structure, the Program could better meet the needs of busy caregivers who may not otherwise be able to participate in in-person caregiver support programs. 

What Caregiver Coaches do 
Caregiver coaches can help caregivers by sorting through resources, formulating questions to ask doctors, lending an ear for support, or mapping out support services. Oftentimes, caregivers just want someone to talk to, and coaches can provide that supportive role. It is important that coaches provide information and suggest options but never offer a personal opinion on what caregivers should do. Coaches are meant to listen, help with planning, and offer knowledge and information. 

Volunteers as Caregiver Coaches 

All of the Caregiver Coaches who participate in the program are volunteers giving their time. AAA1-B found that most of their volunteers have personal experience as caregivers in the past or present, though that was not a requirement to be a volunteer. Not surprisingly, volunteers tended to be older, usually 45 years or older. 

Volunteer training 
AAA1-B licensed the training curriculum and materials from Westchester County Department of Senior Services. Typically a two-day training, AAA1-B adapted the training to be a one-day training to better suit the needs of its volunteers. The training covers caregiving in the context of aging and how to be an effective coach. In addition, AAA1-B convenes its volunteers for monthly meetings to share learnings, additional training, and support. 

Volunteer recruitment 
AAA1-B found volunteer recruitment to be one of the biggest challenges of running its Caregiver Coaching program, which required a highly specialized volunteer role. It tried a number of avenues for recruitment including flyering, newsletters, mailouts, attending senior events, word of mouth, and referrals through community partners. 

Role of Mon Ami technology 

Challenge to be solved: 
The Caregiver Coaching Program is a phone-based support program, so volunteers are calling caregivers directly on their personal phones. AAA1-B knew that this would pose a couple of challenges. Many individuals, regardless of whether they are a volunteer or a caregiver, are wary about giving out personal information and phone numbers. Secondly, AAA1-B knew that caregivers may not pick up an unknown or blocked phone number. Furthermore, as a contractor with healthcare entities, AAA1-B is required to comply with HIPAA standards around privacy and security issues. They needed a HIPAA-compliant system to handle all of its client information and safeguard confidentiality. 

How Mon Ami helped: 
Mon Ami’s HIPAA-compliant system helped solve AAA1-B’s major challenges. First, a unique phone integrated product allowed AAA1-B to mask phone numbers on both the volunteer and caregiver side. Therefore, caregivers nor volunteers had to worry about giving out personal phone numbers. Second, a designated phone number meant caregiver recipients always received calls from the same phone number that they could recognize and trust. This meant more connected calls, fewer missed or ignored calls. Third, Mon Ami’s system allowed AAA1-B to capture all of its survey data in a HIPAA-compliant system that was also easily tracked and mapped to its clients. It became an easy task to look at the data to understand how its caregivers were doing in pre- and post-survey results. Finally, Mon Ami’s customer success support provided consulting to AAA1-B on program design and how to analyze program results, going above and beyond to ensure the Caregiver Coaching Program was a success. 

Program Impact 

Due to the success of the initial year of the program’s launch, AAA1-B further expanded the program from an initial two counties to the remaining four counties in the agency’s service region. So far, the program has twenty-two active caregivers and twelve volunteer coaches. 

By the numbers: 
  • 988.76 volunteer call minutes this quarter 
  • 94.5 monthly coaches meetings hours 
  • 68.5 volunteer training hours 

Caregiver survey results: 
  • A rise in caregiver confidence
  • A decrease in participant stress 
  • Ambiguous results on caregiver feelings of isolation, which could be attributed to withdrawal from prior routines and other lifestyle factors 
  • Caregivers reporting they have learned about or received new resources, and have benefitted from new ideas and strategies 

Additional Resources 

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