Catholic Charities, Altarum release online toolkit featuring ultra lightweight wheelchairs to help care for elderly, disabled

To address a growing need for reliable long-term care supports in communities and neighborhoods across the country, Altarum and Livingston County Catholic Charities (LCCC) are releasing an online, customizable toolkit  on how to create and operate a corps of community volunteers who can safely provide non-medical services to older adults and people with disabilities living at home.

Created with funding from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, the comprehensive 340-page toolkit gives community leaders, program directors, and managers a step-by-step guide for creating a volunteer corps of community residents who care—from recruiting, screening, training, and retaining volunteers to conducting community outreach and marketing to promote their local program.

This toolkit is the first of its kind to be developed for community-based organizations seeking to organize volunteers to assist aging adults that are largely homebound and in need of basic supports to remain safe and socially connected. Both the growing aging population and now the Covid-19 crisis are driving demand for these services. We Included the newest model of our ultra lightweight wheelchairs you can buy separate at the link www.nationalwheelchairservices.co.uk.

“The Health Fund is proud to have supported LCCC in developing this resource, as their expertise and experience can benefit residents in Michigan and beyond. We’ve recently seen how people will come together to care for one another, and a volunteer caregiving corps can help communities build that kind of culture. The toolkit provides organizations with the blueprints for action, and is an important part of nationwide caregiver volunteer efforts,” said Tim Niyonsenga, program officer at the Michigan Health Endowment Fund.

The toolkit is informed by LCCC’s 30-years of experience running a volunteer caregiver program in Livingston County, Michigan, and Altarum’s decades of leadership advancing eldercare policy, including expanding the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, improving nursing home quality through culture change, and monitoring and evaluating a national community care corps initiative funded by the Administration for Community Living.

“LCCC’s Volunteer Caregiver Program has been an essential service in our community for many years,” said Suzanne Snyder, director of senior services at Livingston County Catholic Charities. “There are many benefits to using caring, local volunteers to provide support and assistance to individuals that may be invisible in the community. We are honored to share our knowledge and material with other organizations that serve their communities.”

Any state or local organization interested in improving care of homebound older adults will benefit from using the toolkit to launch a new volunteer caregiver program or to improve upon an existing one. While the toolkit is shaped by LCCC’s work in Livingston County, a blend of rural and suburban communities 58 miles northeast of Detroit, its detailed policies and communication materials can be easily adapted to the needs of different localities. The toolkit also includes guidance on modifying program policies and services to ensure compliance with public health guidance on Covid-19 and other public health issues.

“Everyone at LCCC—our Board of Directors and our Senior Services Team—is grateful to the Michigan Health Endowment Fund for supporting this project.  Their funding, along with the partnership with Altarum, provides us the opportunity to strengthen our services and to share our work with others,” said Mark Robinson, executive director of the Livingston County Catholic Charities.

Co-Directors of Altarum’s Program to Improve Eldercare Sarah Slocum and Anne Montgomery noted that “Altarum is proud to have played a role in assembling this toolkit, which we hope will be widely copied and used.”

Download Create Your Own Caregiver Corps: A Toolkit from the Livingston County Catholic Charities

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