Expanding the State's Alzheimer's Community Assistance Program

Matt Kudish

Senior Vice President of Caregiver Services

The last year has been filled with significant changes at CaringKind. In addition to launching our new name and brand, we’ve simultaneously experienced unprecedented growth of our staff and our programs. With the support of the New York State Department of Health, CaringKind has been able to expand our much-needed programs and services throughout the city. CaringKind has received over $1.1 million annually for the next two years through an expansion of the State’s Alzheimer’s Disease Community Assistance Program (AlzCAP). This project has enabled CaringKind to enhance several existing programs, as well as develop new programs to better support the unique needs of NYC’s Alzheimer’s communities.

CaringKind’s 24-hour Helpline is how the vast majority of our clients first make contact with us. As news of the good work we do continues to spread, and call volume grows, it is increasingly important that we are able to continue to meet the needs of our callers. With this in mind, we have added two additional Helpline Specialists—both of whom are bilingual in English and Spanish. These new staff members enable us to not only respond to each call when it comes in, but to do so with unprecedented linguistic and culturally appropriate expertise. You can reach our Helpline 24/7/365 in 200 languages by calling 646-744-2900 or emailing us at helpline@caringkindnyc.org.

As more people connect with us, each with their own complicated dementia journey, we have seen an increase in referrals to our Social Work Services department. From individual and family counseling to the development and implementation of complex care plans and assistance navigating the ever-changing landscape that is long term care, our Social Workers are working with more clients than ever. As such, we took the opportunity to grow our Social Work team so we can both better meet the demands of our clients and conduct more meaningful outreach and education across diverse communities. We added two social workers in our Social Work Services department who are based at our midtown Manhattan headquarters, as well as two new Outreach Social Worker positions: a social worker dedicated to residents of Staten Island, and another to the Korean communities of NYC. To learn more about how our Social Work Services can assist you, call our 24-hour Helpline and ask to speak with a Social Worker, or visit us online at caringkindnyc.org/socialwork.

We have also expanded our Training department. Through the AlzCAP grant, we have hired a Chinese language trainer who will facilitate trainings throughout the NYC area in both English and Mandarin, including our nationally recognized Dementia Care Training for Professional Caregivers (DCTPC) and our 10-hour Family Caregiver Workshop. The DCTPC is a seven-day program designed exclusively to enhance the ability of paid caregivers of persons with dementia and is changing the way care is provided, and received, for hundreds of persons affected by dementia each year. Training like this does not exist anywhere else in NYC.

Connect2culture® is CaringKind’s cultural arts initiative for persons with dementia and their caregivers, and with this state funding, we have hired a full-time Manager of connect2culture, who will focus on working with cultural institutions throughout the city that have existing access programs, as well as providing expert guidance for new entities as they develop and launch successful programs. In addition to working with long-standing partners such as the Jewish Museum, the Brooklyn Museum and the Intrepid Air and Space Museum, we are thrilled to be partnering with new organizations including Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Public Library, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. For more information about connect2culture, and to learn where programs are offered in your area, visit caringkindnyc.org/connect2culture.

These funds have also allowed us to expand our Education department by hiring a manager to build on the many meetings we offer regularly. In the coming months we will bring several meetings to locations throughout the city and develop new programs for family caregivers and professionals alike, including more continuing education programs for social workers.

All of this growth and expansion is to ensure we are fully prepared to meet the needs of all New Yorkers affected by dementia. And with all of our programs and services available free of charge, it truly is never too early, or too late, to talk about Alzheimer’s and dementia support.

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