Needing help with research (Caregiving)

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Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby Bloomer » February 28th, 2019, 11:40 am

Hi everyone!

So I've been trying to do research on caregiving courses for family members, provided by programs through a mental health institute. These are mostly for family taking on members with mental illnesses like schizophrenia or severe depression. I've found free to read modules and articles from sites on mental health talking about what is taught during these courses, but I can't for the life of me find anything on the teaching method. Like if the course are a mix of hands-on where you're supervised by a professional while caring for a patient, videos, and in-class lessons. If the courses are entirely in-class, with videos. Everything I read on this is so vague, I've also contacted some institutes that do provide such programs but have yet to hear back from them.

Does anyone here have any knowledge on this? Experiences? Know anyone who has experience?
I just want an idea of what the nature of these courses would be.

A lot of what I find is also specifically for family dealing with elderly people with dementia or alzheimer's, and I'm not totally sure if the training for those would go hand in hand given possible age difference, and nature of the illness.
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Re: Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby Eightfish » February 28th, 2019, 4:38 pm

I'm not exactly sure if this is what you're talking about, but I do have some knowledge of CNA, certified nursing assistant, training. They're licensed professionals who mainly moniter, dress, feed, clean, and provide mental support to patients in assisted living facilities, hospitals, and private homes. Since it's an entry-level cert, and since the classes are not very long, it's not hard to imagine someone going through the training for a disabled relative.

The classes where I'm from are a couple months long, typical classroom style, with a trained teacher, usually an RN, and 30ish students. Like you'd expect, students are taught through lectures, and they're periodically tested on material. There are also lab classes mixed in, where students practice physical skills on each other, taking vitals and making sure they're using proper procedures when moving, cleaning, etc. They're also trained in CPR. To pass, they need to be able to demonstrate proficiency in these skills and pass a written test.
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Re: Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby Bloomer » February 28th, 2019, 6:32 pm

Eightfish wrote:-snip-

Huh, I guess the best way to describe caregiver courses is with this link from The Rosalynn Carter Institute of Caregiving. If it helps this is a more thorough guide I found outlining professional caregiving for mental patients. This isn't so much professional medical stuff, even though some places do teach CPR and some emergency procedures like what to do when someone has a seizure and such. The courses are strictly for teaching people how to care for someone with a mental illness, healthy coping mechanisms, self-care, as well as giving the trainee better understand of the illness they're dealing with. Some of the institutes I've come across give the same level of education to family members as they do for people looking to be professional caregivers, others not so much. The one I linked does bring up workshops, but I want and image of what goes on in the workshops, and how the people taking the courses are taught... if that makes sense.

Thank you for the response! Your insight is really helpful, and a CNA is pretty much a caregiver. I'm mostly looking for info on people who got trained to care for people with mental illnesses. Or has some kind of experience with it.
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Re: Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby maiji » March 4th, 2019, 10:02 pm

In case this might be of any help:

1) Scriptshrink is a tumblr account that focuses on writing advice for depicting mental illness and therapy realistically/sensitively/appropriately:
http://scriptshrink.tumblr.com/FAQ
The person who runs has an M.S. in Clinical Psychology, and she also notes "between friends, family, and myself, I have had a lot of experience interacting with and understanding people with severe mental illnesses. I have also interned at an inpatient psychiatric hospital where I worked with many clients with severe mental illnesses."
Maybe you could try submitting a question and she might be able to point you in an appropriate direction?

2) You might already have thought of this, but what about volunteer programs? Some organizations working in mental health have them, and it might be possible to sign up yourself which could be very helpful, and also enable you to interact directly/connect with people who have more experience/insights. From my very limited knowledge, depending on the organization/context of the program you may need to commit to volunteer time and pass certain qualifications (background checks etc.) to be able to participate. But you could try reaching out to them to explain the purpose of your research, and ask about auditing parts of the course. There might be a fee associated with it (since it costs them money to run the programs).

I took a series of palliative care workshops for hospice volunteers. It's not exactly the same thing, but aspects of format might be similar, as it was a series of sessions over multiple weeks designed for people who are not medical professionals but would be working closely with family/friends and healthcare providers to support caregiving. It was a mix depending on the topic. We had:
*Traditional lectures/presentations from staff as well as guest speakers from various relevant professions
*Videos - formats varied. More academic video lectures, as well as skits/plays/movie excerpts, testimonials/case studies of actual families, etc.
*Group exercises/activities/discussions
*Hands-on sessions with medical professionals and partners. This was mostly focused on physical aspects of caregiving (e.g., assisting a bed-bound person), as well as roleplaying with other workshop participants (in pairs and in groups), and then group discussion/evaluation of our sessions.

The above was supplemented by a series of online course modules with self-check quizzes.

Good luck! I hope you're able to find what you need, and that the organizations you contacted get back to you!
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Re: Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby Bloomer » March 5th, 2019, 3:55 pm

maiji wrote:-snip-

Aw man, thank you so much! Your response is helpful! I'll check out Scriptshrink right away, she definitely might be able to give me some basic insight. I actually have been seeing a psychologist myself for some personal reasons, every so often I ask her stuff about her job, like some of the experiences she's had with patients with the same illnesses/disorders as my character(s). She's always really eager to share, but I don't want to make her feel like I'm just using her for info? We're casual friends now, and it's kinda sad when I just contact her for research purposes, especially when she's so busy helping people. lol If it's a stranger on the net who runs a blog for research purposes, I won't feel so bad.

I've thought about doing some volunteer work, or seeing if it would be possible to shadow a class/session. The scene that will require caregiving info won't be coming up for a looong while, so I have time to look around for some facilities in my area that hold such classes. Volunteering would be nice too since all of my mental health research (except for depression) has just been from videos, "interviews", and technical research. Actual encounters would probably be beneficial. Tbh I'm always a little shy about explaining the purpose of my research, from the pov of a "normal adult" hearing someone wants to do something for a comic is really silly, and I think they won't want to help because of how silly it sounds. I know my coworkers never take me seriously when I talk about my hobby, maybe some people will be fine with it, though?

This is great, thank you! Were the traditional classes, and videos held in the hospital or a separate building? Do the trainees work with actual patients during the hands-on sessions? In one of the outlines I remember reading that the family member works with their mentally ill loved one to best learn how to deal with that specific illness, I'm curious if this is the same for medical caregiver training?

Yeah, I hope so too! The info would be really nice, although I totally understand if they don't end up responding since most of these places emphasis they mostly respond to people who need help, or are interested in their courses. Either way, there's always some resources out there, and ways to get the experience/knowledge needed. (It might be good for me to search up mental health forums)
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Re: Needing help with research (Caregiving)

Postby maiji » March 14th, 2019, 9:37 pm

I'm glad I was able to help! I totally hear you, it can feel awkward approaching professionals and people doing such important work and saying "I'm doing research for a comic". But if you're respectful and mindful about it, my personal experience is that people will recognize that.

That was actually my situation with the hospice volunteer program. Palliative care is a topic that's very important to me personally and something that I want to help raise awareness about, especially to change the perception of it as being "medical care for old/dying people who have given up". But it's also not exactly a topic that you can just casually drop into conversation. For me, comics has always been an accessible medium for all sorts of stories, whether it's something people can turn to for entertainment, inspiration, representation, solace, etc. It's a way for me to reflect and share ideas that I feel are interesting and/or important.

Anyways, one of the characters in my comic is a palliative care worker, and I wanted to depict this field as respectfully and authentically as I could. But I also didn't want to disrupt people's lives or work. I didn't approach anyone until after I had done a lengthy amount of independent reading/research, and I honestly wasn't expecting more than maybe being pointed to volunteer training materials for more reading. But it turns out there are comics fans out in the working world :) And even those who aren't (to my knowledge anyways) are still interested (or at least intrigued) and kind. I was even able to complete a supplementary info-comic to my webcomic thanks to the encouragement of staff at the palliative care organization I did my workshops at (you can see it here).

If you're worried about approaching people using the word "comics" straight out, especially because mainstream culture in some parts of the world still tends to have a very particular view of what comics is (i.e., not "serious"), you could explain that you're a writer doing research to ensure you depict and represent things accurately and sensitively. You can explain further about the format/medium if you need to later, but that might help if you feel nervous about being dismissed off the bat. And of course never assume anyone has free time to give, but my general experience has been that people actually do like answering questions on things they are knowledgeable about, especially if it will help clarify misconceptions. (And of course make sure to let them know your appreciation for their generosity as well, even if it's "just" a heartfelt thank you note/card! It's nice to receive something like that. :) )

Regarding your question about the classes - Hospices are community-based organizations, not hospitals (though some hospitals do have their own palliative care departments). They vary greatly in size and resources. My classes were mainly in the organization's small administrative building (basically a converted house), and we had a couple days of hands-on training at a college that had appropriate equipment (e.g., special beds). We did not work directly with people actually receiving palliative care in the hands-on sessions. That said, out in the field, volunteers are supported by a team of professionals, and would be provided with contact information for support in case of questions or emergencies.
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