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Friends and families who help care for Veterans can learn to navigate the Veterans Affairs (VA) health care system, discover new strategies for caregiving, and connect with other caregivers all through Caregivers FIRST. Caregivers FIRST stands for Caregivers Finding Important Resources, Support, and Training and is offered nationwide by Caregiver Support Program teams.
Caregivers FIRST is a four-session group training program. Depending on location, CSP teams at local VA facilities offer the group sessions either in-person or virtually. Every participant enrolled in Caregivers FIRST receives a workbook and supplemental materials that guide topics of interest, including coping with anger and other emotions, substance abuse, sleep challenges, and more. In addition, each session within the series has an individual focus. For example, the four-week sessions may follow the outline below:
Session 1: Introduction and Caregiving Discussion - Frustrations and rewards of caregiving. - Helping your Veteran remain independent. - Relaxation exercises.
Session 2: Hands-on and Decision-Making Strategies - Basics of daily care. - Safety - Veteran preferences. - Communication with providers.
Session 3: Coping Skills and Strategies - Stress management. - Value of self-care. - Recognizing depression, burnout.
Session 4: Support Seeking Skills and Navigation Strategies - Navigating the system. - VA services and Caregiver Support Program. - Non-VA resources. - Preparing for the future and legal issues.
Benefits of Caregivers FIRST
- Learn new psychological and coping skills. - Gain hands-on skills training and shared decision-making strategies. - Connect with other caregivers.
Advantages of Caregivers FIRST
- Flexible training with in-person and virtual options. - Increased satisfaction with VA care.
How to learn more and sign-up for Caregivers FIRST:
Call VA’s Caregiver Support Line (CSL) at 1-855-260-3274 to learn more about the support that is available to you, and for assistance connecting with theCaregiver Support Team/Coordinator, at your local VA Medical Center.
VA CSL Expanded hours: -Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET -Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET
Your local Caregiver Support Coordinator is a licensed professional who can support you by matching you with services for which you are eligible, and providing you with valuable information about resources that can help you stay smart, strong and organized as you care for the Veteran you love.