New group forming to help care for those who give care

Individuals who care for a physically handicapped child, an adult with dementia or a disabled spouse or family member often suffer from sleep deprivation, loneliness and the stress of seemingly unending responsibilities.

Now, a group of people in Tiffin is trying to create an organization that would provide respite for caregivers. Tim Galvin, who volunteers with various Tiffin groups, has contacted local agencies to determine their interest in such a program.

Galvin moved to Tiffin a few years ago from Toledo, where he worked with Hospice of Northwest Ohio, first as a volunteer and later as an employee. That agency offers Caring for Caregivers, which provides safety training for in-home caregivers. Every three weeks, the program offers a session on self-care for caregivers.

“I started talking to people about that,” Galvin said. “What it’s kind of turned into, we have been doing some focus groups with people from hospice, St. Francis Home and the Opportunity Center.

“As a starting point, we want to focus on respite, because it’s a common denominator. Sometimes, they need time away, time on their own.”

Galvin said he and several others have been meeting regularly to discuss what might be needed to form a caregiver network.

At the March meeting of the Ministerial Association, Galvin made a presentation to clergy about the effort. He said notices would be placed in church bulletins and on fliers to display in care facilities and on community bulletin boards.

The core group has scheduled meetings at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. May 4 at Tiffin-Seneca Public Library to inform the community and to seek volunteers. Representatives from various facilities and agencies have been invited to speak at the meetings.

“All these folks will be talking about what it would mean to volunteer as a caregiver for their people. … We’re going to try to give people a snapshot of what we would be asking of them. Then we’ll try to answer questions people might have and see if we can get a core group of volunteers willing to do that,” Galvin said.

Depending on what volunteers want, some kind of training may be offered.

Galvin said caregiving can take many forms. A person with dementia or Alzheimer’s may need someone just to sit with him to be sure he does not wander away or do something dangerous. Someone with a physical disability might need assistance getting around the home or going to an appointment. Bathing and grooming are more difficult kinds of care.

“I’ve provided respite for caregivers who had family members in a nursing home, because they just wanted somebody else to come in and be there a few hours,” Galvin said.

Volunteers with hospice receive 27 hours of training, Galvin said, and the agencies offer respite to family members with a loved one in hospice care. A few facilities in the area have adult daycare services, but they have limited space, and there is a fee.

“We’d like to develop a network so people can say ‘I can get a break,’ ‘I can go out for dinner,’ ‘I can take a nap’ or any of those kinds of things,” Galvin said.

He is hoping university students going into elder care, nursing, mental health and similar fields will get involved to gain experience and offer community service.

Galvin is hoping other ideas will come out at the community meetings.

More information is to be released closer to the meeting date.