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You may know a friend or colleague who regularly provides care to a loved one who has a disability, has a healthcare need and/or is simply not able to care for themselves. While serving as a caregiver can be joyful and rewarding, caregiving can also be demanding and stressful. Caregivers need help. There is a mounting evidence that indicates caregivers are at risk for physical and emotional health issues of their own, feelings of isolation and high levels of stress.

In response to these concerns, ElderCircle is offering the nationally-recognized Respite Education & Support Tools (REST) training that provides education, tips and techniques for individuals who want to provide caregivers respite from the responsibilities of caregiving. The aim of REST training is for individuals to learn the three key steps of respite support: prepare, care and connect, so they are more effective in providing respite care.

“We’re really excited to offer the REST training in Itasca County,” said Renee Bymark, ElderCircle Executive Director. “We have already witnessed participants’ successes from REST, it’s been very well received and has shown positive results for individuals and families.”

The REST program is for both paid and unpaid providers, with or without previous experience. The program is customizable to fit a wide variety of caregiving needs and teaches how to communicate, and how to more effectively address the needs of the person receiving care, as well as the caregiver.

“REST empowers people to be more confident, comfortable and willing to help others,” said Rinna Waters, ElderCircle Program Director and Certified REST Trainer. “Caregivers simply need a break from the demands of providing care, and people who have completed REST are better equipped to provide that much needed break. As the need for caregivers continues to increase, our goal is to provide this respite education to as many people as possible for the sake of caregivers and their care receivers.”

It can be difficult for caregivers to seek and accept outside help, but self-care is a critical part of being an effective caregiver. Having a trusted person to provide respite care can improve the well-being of the caregiver. “Taking care of themselves is one of the most important parts of caregiving, and having a person with the skills and knowledge to provide a quality, safe respite experience allows caregivers to confidently take a break knowing their person is well cared for,” Waters said.

The fact that trained respite providers can improve caregiver well-being is supported by a recent study published in the Home Health Care Services Quarterly, which assessed how receiving REST training affected the skills and confidence of respite caregivers, as well as the effects of having respite care on caregiver well-being. The results were heartening: those who completed the training reported significant growth in their confidence providing respite care, as well as in their perceived knowledge of respite care. Caregivers who worked with a trained respite provider had reduced stress-related symptoms after receiving respite from a trained provider, versus before respite began or if respite were to end.

The next REST training will be offered at ElderCircle on Tuesday, Feb. 26 from 7:45-5:00. The training is free, all materials and lunch are provided, and seven CEUs are available for a $15 fee. Seating is limited and registration is required. Contact ElderCircle with questions or to register at 218-999-9233, ext. 277 or ecircle@eldercircle.org.

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