How are you doing? This deceptively simple question can pack a mighty punch for the caregivers that call VA’s Caregiver Support Line (CSL). The national call center can be a lifeline to ensure the health and wellbeing of Veterans and their caregivers. This applies whether the callers are in crisis or need a link to local support services.
“It’s easy for many caregivers to feel jumbled up. They feel really overwhelmed and they don’t know which direction to go. Or that they don’t have anyone to really hear them out,” said Colin Gooley, a CSL responder. “Helping caregivers process their situation is a big role we play.”
Responders are mental health counselors
Responders are professional social workers. They are trained counselors in mental health therapy and experienced case managers used to matching caregivers with available resources both inside VA and within the community. In addition to offering those “just-in-time” services, the responders help counter the feelings of isolation many caregivers experience.
The CSL creates a sense of community for caregivers through monthly telephone education groups and referrals to the VA Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring program. They also assist with the Building Better Caregivers online workshop and through individual coaching sessions through VA’s REACH program.
With 2.4 million Veterans receiving caregiver assistance, caregivers don’t have to the navigate the journey alone.
250-350 caregiver calls on a typical day
On a typical day, the support line serves between 250 and 350 caregivers. Calls last from 10 minutes to one hour, depending on the caller’s needs. The longer calls are more typical of a counseling session.
“Callers can provide as much or as little information as they want,” said Colin. “But it can be helpful if we have some information about the Veteran’s circumstances or the situation of the caregiver. It helps to know where they are located, if they or the Veteran is enrolled in VA health care and what kind of services they’re looking for.”
Follow-up calls to users indicate caller satisfaction is above 90 percent, meaning nine out of 10 callers have had their needs met. Caregivers should call, even If you don’t know what to expect or feel your concerns are too small to bother a responder.
The call center welcomes your calls. Throughout the year, but especially during November, which is National Family Caregivers Month, we encourage you to call and introduce yourself to the CSL. Calling can make a difference; it can help bring you a sense a peace.