Cheshire Schanker

Queens Outreach Social Worker

At CaringKind, we recognize that in a city as big as New York, it is important to look at the parts as well as the whole. This notion is the origin of my position: Queens Outreach Social Worker, a cross between a social worker and outreach worker created to tailor our support and resources to best fit the residents of Queens. This position is supported by a generous grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The dual responsibilities of providing direct service and support and conducting outreach complement one another, and are unique to this position. As a social worker, I do in-depth work with individuals and families who are facing the decisions and challenges associated with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. I provide education, care planning assistance, and counseling around the emotional impact of the illness. In my outreach role, I liaise with the community by speaking directly to caregivers and service providers in each neighborhood of the borough. I gain an up-close look at services available in Queens and build relationships with an array of providers to call upon when the need arises.

Working with dementia caregivers and service providers in Queens has been inspiring. Queens is one of the most diverse places in the country. As such, programs must not only accommodate different languages, but also display the cultural sensitivity necessary for all to flourish. When I ask program directors what languages their members speak, they often smile and respond, “What don’t they speak?” While some programs accommodate this diversity by dividing into groups of different languages, with bilingual or multilingual programming, other programs specialize in one language community. It is a privilege to connect caregivers with meaningful services. A caregiver I spoke with recently was overjoyed when I told her that her mother could attend a mostly Korean-speaking day program. While it was not in her neighborhood, the program provided transportation so she could attend and spend time with people who share her language and culture.

Conducting outreach in the community, I have found myself at nursing homes, adult day programs, assisted living facilities, naturally occurring retirement communities, and respite programs, and seen that Queens clearly cares about its residents with dementia. I have visited programs such as Ridgewood Bushwick, which provides a cozy apartment with round-the-clock professional caregivers for affordable overnight respite stays, and Queens Community House, which offers multiple levels of adult day care so that a person progressing through the stages of Alzheimer’s never has to discontinue the program. Due to the borough’s size, it is important for us to know what is out there and where it is. For example, placing a relative in a nursing home in Neponsit would not be feasible for a caregiver living in Woodside. Knowing about both dementia and Queens helps me provide superior support to its caregivers.

Another component of my role is presenting our Understanding Dementia Seminar to caregivers. I am thrilled to announce that we have partnered with four organizations throughout Queens where I will be regularly presenting the seminar: AHS Caring Communities Adult Day Care Center in Astoria, Atria Senior Living in Kew Gardens, Self Help Alzheimer’s Resource Program in Bayside, and Ohel Social Services in Far Rockaway. I will be rotating between these sites every four months, giving one presentation each month. I am excited that caregivers throughout Queens will have access to this invaluable program. AHS Caring Communities has even volunteered to provide care during the presentation, making it the only Understanding Dementia meeting in the city with the capability for caregivers to bring the person they are caring for with them.

From the educational seminars to site visits to direct client work, every facet of my role complements the others and helps fully realize the goal of providing Queens-based support. I know that for every exhausted caregiver to whom we provide assistance, there are so many more who do not realize that these services exist. This motivates me to find new and innovative ways to reach the caregivers of Queens to let them know CaringKind is here for them, and even closer than people think!

The Bronx

Caitlin McCurn

Director of Research & Grants

At CaringKind, we have always been committed to serving all New Yorkers who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Throughout our 30-year history we have launched awareness campaigns, developed outreach programs, and opened satellite locations throughout the city to ensure that underserved communities are aware of and able to access our programs and services, which are available free of charge. Nowhere has this work been more important than in the Bronx, where the needs are great. African Americans and Hispanics make up the majority of the borough’s residents and are at increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Bronx residents also face cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic barriers that limit their ability to access healthcare and support services.

By focusing our attention on diverse communities with unmet needs, CaringKind has successfully addressed some of the barriers faced by Bronx caregivers and persons with dementia. Over the past three decades we have broadened our outreach approach to ensure that a greater number of Bronx caregivers, persons with dementia, community providers, and professionals are aware of and can access our services. Our African American, Latino, Medical and Healthcare Professional Outreach, and Wanderer’s Safety Program staff have worked extensively in the Bronx, providing informational presentations and direct services to local residents who are concerned about Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.

Through these outreach efforts we have improved Alzheimer’s awareness and generated greater interest in our programs and services. I am pleased to share with you some of the additional ways we have enhanced care and support for individuals in the Bronx:
We enrolled over 5,000 Bronx residents in our Wanderer's Safety Program.

  • We responded to more than 4,900 Bronx callers through our 24-hour Helpline.
  • Our social workers have consulted over 1,200 Bronx caregivers.
  • We established caregiver support groups throughout the Bronx.
  • We educated English and Spanish speaking caregivers at Understanding Dementia seminars held twice a year at locations in the Bronx.
  • We trained hundreds of home health care aids from home care agencies located in the Bronx through our Dementia
  • Care Training for Professional Caregivers.
    In 2014, we held our first Latino forum on Alzheimer's at Lincoln Hospital.
  • We collaborated with churches in the Bronx to implement our Family Caregiver Workshops in Spanish.
  • We have received several referrals from St. Barnabas and Montefiore since 2014 via our Rapid Referral program.
  • We presented Mount Carmel Pharmacy, one of our closest partners in the Rx for Care Pharmacy Card Program, with a community service award.
  • We presented at all the NYPD precincts in the Bronx, collaborated with Community Affairs and worked with several housing and transit police in the borough.

We pride ourselves on working collaboratively with an extensive network of organizations that provide services for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. In the Bronx our partners include home health care agencies (Cooperative Home Care Association, Home Care Associates, Kings Harbor Multicare Center); hospitals and medical centers (Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center, Bronx-Lebanon Hospital, Calvary Hospital, Montefiore Medical Center, St. Barnabas Hospital, Westchester Square Hospital); senior services facilities (Bronx Wood Senior Center, Riverdale Senior Services Melrose Senior Center, PSS, Parkchester Enhancement Program for Seniors); adult day programs (ARCH Care Senior Life Day Care Center, Morningside Adult Day Program, Providence Rest Adult Day Program, R.A.I.N); residential care facilities (Morning Side Nursing Home, Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale, Belmont Boulevard Senior Housing, Jewish Home and Hospital, Methodist Home for Nursing & Rehabilitation, Williamsbridge Nursing Home); churches, women's shelters and others (Senior Bridge, Visiting Nurse Services of New York). These partners make referrals to our 24-hour Helpline and enable us to facilitate support groups, education meetings, workshops for family caregivers, and community presentations. They assist us in registering persons with dementia in our Wanderer’s Safety Program and circulate bulletins to assist in the timely return of missing persons with dementia. None of the inroads we have made in the Bronx would have been possible without their support.

We are proud of the progress we have made increasing our presence in the Bronx and connecting its residents to our programs and services. As we move forward, we hope to broaden our reach in a borough where there is still much more to accomplish. In the future we hope to place a full-time social worker in the Bronx to fill the gap in social services and provide hands-on guidance and support for families who have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia.

Staten Island

Jed A. Levine

Executive Vice President, Director of Programs & Services

The borough of Staten Island presents unique opportunities for CaringKind to serve the residents and professionals who live and work on the Island. The so-called “Forgotten Borough” is anything but forgotten by the hardworking staff and volunteers of CaringKind. We have worked diligently to develop relationships and foster collaborations with the social service, aging, faith-based and human services communities to bring our programs to families facing the challenges of caring for a relative with Alzheimer’s or a related disorder.

Since 2002, when we expanded our territory to serve all five boroughs, all of our programs and services have been available free of charge to offer help, hope, and practical assistance. We have also held community presentations and hosted other events on Staten Island. Here is some of our recent activity:

  • Our 24-hour Helpline has responded to hundreds of callers seeking the personalized help and support that we offer.
  • Trained support group leaders lead groups on Staten Island.
  • Former City Council member Vincent M. Ignizio has provided funding for enrolling Staten Island residents in the lifesaving Wanderer’s Safety Program.
  • City Council member Debi Rose has hosted programs for CaringKind, specifically focused on the minority population.
  • For the first time, we brought our annual Walk to Staten Island’s South Beach, connecting hundreds of families with the resources of CaringKind.
  • Our Latino and Chinese Outreach programs have held workshops and community presentations to reach the growing diverse population on Staten Island.
  • Over 900 Staten Island residents are enrolled in the Wanderer’s Safety Program.
  • CaringKind’s Wanderer’s Safety Program associates have also done presentations for all three NYPD precincts on Staten Island, held workshops for three Staten Island Community Boards, and worked with the Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Nate’s Pharmacy has opened their doors to us and hosted an information table, as well as a Wanderer’s Safety Program enrollment day.

We participated on the Staten Island InterAgency Council where we networked with colleagues, leading to community and agency presentations at a wide variety of settings including:

  • VNS
  • CCM (Comprehensive Care Management), now
  • Center Light
  • Carmel Richmond Health Care Center
  • Staten Island University Hospital
  • Advantage Care Physicians
  • Eger Health Care Center
  • Meals on Wheels
  • CASC
  • JASA
  • Vanderbilt Nursing Home
  • JCC Stapleton Senior Center
  • Community Health Care of Richmond
  • Temple Emmanu-el
  • Blessed Sacrament
  • New Dorp Moravian Church

Staff from Staten Island nursing homes have attended our nursing home conferences on improving care for persons with dementia, including the most recent one in April 2015 focusing on Palliative Care for Persons with Dementia, which was co-sponsored by 1199 SEIU and the Center for the Advancement of Palliative Care.

Home care workers from Staten Island have completed our Dementia Care Training for Professional Caregivers program.

Many Staten Islanders have signed up as advocates.
Staten Island families have received financial assistance through our Special Assistance Fund.

Staten Island Community TV hosted two hour-long programs led by CaringKind staff, bringing much needed information and resources to the residents of Staten Island.
Early in 2015 we led an all-day workshop for clergy and lay leaders from the Staten Island Council of Churches, thanks largely to Deacon Frank Ali.

We have made great strides connecting Staten Islanders with the guidance and support we provide at CaringKind and spreading our message of hope and help throughout the borough. We recognize that there is still much work to be done, and have made plans to place a full-time social worker on Staten Island, who will aid families right on the island. If you'd like to host a community presentation or event on Staten Island, please contact our 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900.


Matt Kudish

Senior Vice President of Caregiver Services

CaringKind has deep roots in Brooklyn. Over the last 30 years, we have developed rich community partnerships with a wide array of service providers, spanning the full spectrum of services available to those affected by dementia. From diagnostic centers to the District Attorney’s office, from geriatricians to geriatric psychiatrists, from adult day programs to homecare providers, from respite care to long-term care facilities, from the Borough President to the Kings County Supreme Court, CaringKind has presented for, collaborated with, and referred to several entities throughout the borough.

One of our longest standing relationships continues to be with the Brooklyn Alzheimer’s Disease Assistance Center (BADAC) at SUNY Downstate. After many years of cross referrals and collaborations on many of our initiatives, including caregiver support groups and our Wanderer’s Safety Program, we learned that the BADAC had lost a vitally important funding stream that supported the essential work of its Director of Social Services, Lorna Walcott-Brown. Lorna has been supporting Brooklyn’s Alzheimer’s and dementia community since 1993. Her institutional knowledge of both the needs of Brooklyn’s Alzheimer’s community as well as the myriad community-based supports available is vast and unmatched, and she was also the sole link between the medical and social services provided by the BADAC to persons with dementia and their caregivers. In her role at the BADAC, Lorna provided psychoeducation to families affected by dementia about the disease and its course. She connected families in need to the many services available to them, providing support along the way as they encountered challenges while navigating the various systems needed to secure care. Lorna has also facilitated a caregiver support group since 2000, providing group members with much-needed emotional support and a space to share their complicated feelings with others going through similar experiences. Additionally, she enrolled several dozens of persons with dementia and their family members in our Wanderers Safety Program during her tenure at the BADAC.

We knew that the elimination of Lorna’s position at the BADAC would be a profound loss for Brooklyn’s most vulnerable adults and their caregivers, so we hired Lorna to join our staff in July 2012. In the years since, Lorna has worked with her colleagues to further enhance her own skills and knowledge, as well as contribute to growth among her network and their knowledge base.

Even before Lorna joined our team formally, we were committed to meeting the needs of the Brooklyn dementia community. For over 20 years we have offered support groups in English, Spanish, and Chinese throughout the borough; and we began offering our Understanding Dementia Seminar monthly in 2005. In recent years, thanks to the support of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, we have expanded even further into Brooklyn, offering a number of Family Caregiver Workshops throughout the borough in both English and Spanish, as well as a specially developed workshop to meet the unique needs of the Orthodox Jewish population.

Our Diversity Outreach staff and Speakers Bureau volunteers have conducted countless presentations to culturally diverse groups at senior centers, churches and other religious institutions, community boards, and community-based organizations. Through our cultural arts program, connect2culture®, we have trained staff at some of Brooklyn’s leading cultural institutions to enhance their ability to provide specially-designed programs for people with dementia and their caregivers. Future plans include collaborating with even more cultural entities to partner with us to provide the highest quality programming for people with dementia and their caregivers close to home.

Most recently, recognizing the need in other areas of Brooklyn for the services Lorna provided at the BADAC, last year we launched a pilot program with NYU Lutheran where Lorna is available one day each week to provide information, education, and support to individuals and families served by their diagnostic and treatment team.

On March 11, in collaboration with the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office, we hosted a conference at Borough Hall for Brooklynites affected by or interested in dementia. The conference included welcoming remarks by Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna and presentations by several CaringKind staff members on topics including enhancing communication, managing challenging behaviors, and creating meaningful activities. The event was attended by more than 250 people — caregivers, professionals, and providers alike. The conference was also generously supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

As we continue to expand even more deeply in Brooklyn, we will look for new opportunities to continue to meet the needs of the growing dementia community. Visit our website to learn about our exciting new developments.