Supporting caregivers

Informal caregivers may experience objective strain, subjective strain, and isolation as a result of caregiving. Harmony Support for Caregivers (Harmony) (Hieb, 2017) is a ministry of a Northern California church that provides caregivers with information and emotional support. Handmade cards are used to communicate with caregivers. The student created the Caregiver Outreach Program, a component of Harmony, as a result of the creation of the handmade cards. Three objectives were created to provide direction for the project and include the following: (1) Reduce caregiver strain and isolation by using the caregivers' church as a source of support, (2) provide individualized caregiver support, and (3) encourage caregivers to return to interests that were stopped when caregiving became overwhelming. Carl Rogers' (1951) theory of self-actualization provided the foundation for the study. Forty caregivers within the age range of 30 through the 80s participated in the project. A convenience sample of the caregivers was surveyed to determine the project's helpfulness. Quantitative results of the survey showed that Harmony provided caregivers with useful information (75%), helped caregivers feel connected to their church (50%), and helped them feel as important as their care recipients (50%). Caregivers returned to old hobbies (56%) and were interested in pursuing other Harmony activities (56%). Although caregivers indicated that the type of card they received did not make a difference (56%), the qualitative results showed that caregivers clarified their original responses by writing that handmade cards made them feel special (50%). The survey results indicate that caregivers respond positively to individualized support from their community. This support reminds caregivers to think about themselves. The use of handmade cards is debatable and needs further study. The project will be sustained by recruiting caregivers, church members, and other church ministries to help create cards for Harmony to use and exploring different ways card-makers can have access to card-making supplies that includes accountability.