Caregivers are a vital part of the care of our patients in so many ways. Family Support has established programs to help caregivers find their own time of respite, as well as ways for them to practice self-care.
In this program, teams of volunteers coordinate the preparation of home-cooked meals for the inpatient caregivers on the PBMT unit. Meals are typically prepared at the volunteer's homes, work establishment, or place of worship and delivered to caregivers in the Connection playroom. Providing a meal is a wonderful way to provide a tangible sign of comfort and care for our families as they often find themselves living on hospital or vending machine food much of the time. For more information about how your organization can participate in the Community Meals Program, please contact Julie Berry.
Once a week, a licensed massage therapist comes to the unit so that caregivers may receive much-needed relaxation and relief.
Caregiver Nights are an opportunity for parents and caregivers to socialize and spend time together over dinner. Caregivers Nights are a collaboration between Family Support staff and a caregiver or parent on the unit. Sometimes the evening is structured with activities or a movie, while other times it is an opportunity to just hang out. Family Support provides volunteers during these events to sit with patients so caregivers feel comfortable stepping away and spending time in the Connection Room.
On Wednesday mornings we reserve the Connection Room for the Caregiver Social. This is a chance for parents and caregievrs to drop in, grab a donut, and socialize. The local Durham bakery and cafe Monuts provides two dozen donuts and coffee each week for caregivers to enjoy. We play music and oftentimes nurses and staff stop by to chat with caregivers as well. This is a great opportunity for caregivers to meet and get to know one another.
Just as volunteers can provide a much needed distraction or activity for our patients, volunteers also can provide a caregiver the chance to take a break or to stretch their legs. All of our volunteers are trained on the policies and protocols of our inpatient unit, and also go through a background check and health screening. The requirement for our inpatient families is that a caregiver has to be with the patient 24/7, but volunteers can provide respite care so that caregivers can get a break during the day and either stretch their legs, go grab a cup of coffee, or run some quick errands.
Duke Cancer Institute has a wide range of support groups and mind body classes available to our caregivers. Find the calendar here.