Raman Narang, the coordinator of Caregiver Connections, talks to caregivers in a socially-distanced environment. (Special to The News)

Raman Narang, the coordinator of Caregiver Connections, talks to caregivers in a socially-distanced environment. (Special to The News)

Free support program for senior caregivers in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows

Provides unpaid care providers with support, respite and social connections

Caring for an older adult can often lead to stress, burnout, and a loss of social connections.

A program now offered in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is being aimed at unpaid care providers to provide them with new coping skills, help them find balance in their lives, in addition to giving them support, respite and social connections.

The Caregiver Connections and Support Program is a free weekly program for family or friends caring for older adults aged 55-plus with higher needs, being operated out of both the Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge Senior Centres.

It was initially started in January, 2020, but was put on pause as the COVID-19 pandemic started to unfold.

During that time support was still being offered through BC211 and being able to offer the caregiver support over the phone, explained Raman Narang, coordinator of Caregiver Connections.

The program was started up again in the fall of 2020, said Narang, because they realized how much the support was needed.

“Caregivers are unseen,” explained Narang.

“Especially during COVID, you could definitely see how caregivers were placed on the back burner and they were suffering,” she noted.

The ability for caregivers to now have a safe spot to connect to other caregivers, to connect with resources and referrals and get the support that they need is what makes this program so important.

READ MORE: ‘You are not alone’: B.C. pledges $500K to help family caregivers amid COVID-19 pandemic

And, added Narang, care recipients will have better relationships with their caregivers.

Funded by the Government of B.C, managed by the United Way in partnership with Family Caregivers of B.C., the expanded program will now offer participants choices between in-person group support, online, telephone or one-on-one support.

Group support will be facilitated using well-developed Family Caregivers of B.C. training modules and under current COVID guidelines can include up to 10 people.

The goal of the program is to increase caregivers’ coping skills, competence, confidence, and take away their feelings of loneliness.

“Caregivers experience stress at the best of times but the isolation of this past year created added pressure and additional responsibilities,” said Maria Perretta, executive director of the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society.

READ MORE: COVID-19 vaccine protects health staff, seniors best after three weeks

“Ridge Meadows Seniors Society recognized the intensified need and quickly expanded the Caregiver Connection Program to help support the emotional health and wellness of caregivers in this challenging time,” she said.

Once a month a speaker will be invited to facilitate a workshop to educate caregivers with new tools and resources that are available to them locally and regionally.

Recent workshops have included: Navigating the Health Care System; Understanding Behaviors; and Reframing Self Care.

The next workshop in July is called Self Compassion in Caregiving.

Intakes into the program take place regularly.

For more information on how to access the program email raman@rmssseniors.org or call 604-380-0516.

Have a story tip? Email: cflanagan@mapleridgenews.com

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