Submitted by Brandi Devries, consultant, Communications and Public Affairs

The Fraser Health caregiver support clinician program is the first of its kind in B.C. Learn how these social worker superheroes are offering person-centred care and support to caregivers in our region.

(Photo) (L-R) Kelly Ridder, caregiver support clinician and Bryn Poschenrieder, caregiver support clinician

Meet Bryn Poschenrieder and Kelly Ridder, two out of the three caregiver support clinicians who support the regions of Fraser South and East respectively.

They are from the Caregiver Support Clinician Program, the first of its kind in the province. The program is part of the caregiver support services offered by Fraser Health to caregivers of Home Health clients.

While caring for a loved one at home can be rewarding, it can also be challenging. With managing multiple priorities and the energy required to provide care for loved ones, it’s common to see many caregivers neglecting their own needs. This can lead to exhaustion and burnout.

This is where the caregiver support clinicians come in.

Bryn and Kelly work directly with caregivers to help them navigate the health care system, connect them to community services and resources, and support those who may be experiencing feelings of isolation, stress and anxiety.

“We work directly with our clients to develop strategies to reduce distress and ensure they are able to sustain their role as caregivers,” says Kelly.

A new addition to the health care team, caregiver support clinicians are unique to Fraser Health.

“The caregiver support clinician program has sprung from the model of proactive health care. They provide support to those who are caring for high-needs clients in their home, so that they can continue their care plan for longer,” says Chandan Dhillon, regional manager, Community Services.

Bryn and Kelly understand that while caregivers have similar goals and experiences, no two clients are the same.

“Caregivers may have shared feelings of stress or isolation, however, the way that people can experience these emotions can be vastly different,” explains Bryn.

Bryn and Kelly work to meet their clients where they are at and tailor their approach to fit their assessed needs. For example, Kelly may meet up with a client in their living room in Boston Bar or a local coffee shop. Whereas, Bryn may schedule a visit with her client at the hospital cafeteria or offer to meet them for a walk in a local park.

“Sometimes it’s just a quick call at the end of their work day, says Bryn. “We know a lot is asked of caregivers. We offer our clients the freedom to set the terms of how we can best support them. If they need to cancel at a moment’s notice, that is okay.”

Using a holistic, client-driven approach allows the caregiver support clinicians to not only advocate for their clients, but also be their ally.

“Many clients have shared that this is the first time that they have felt seen or heard as a caregiver. They really appreciate the ability to speak in a safe, judgement free space about their experiences,” says Kelly.

Bryn and Kelly’s clients may just need to be connected to resources like the Older Adult Day Program, whereas others may need long-term support as their loved one's care journey evolves.

“We acknowledge this is not an easy journey, but we are here to support them along the way, for as long as it takes.”

When asked what she liked most about her role Kelly said, “quite simply being able to offer the support to caregivers. This service is a valuable resource that allows us to provide meaningful care to those who may not be seen. It’s an honour to be allowed into their lives and embark on this journey with my clients.”

“Our role as caregiver support clinicians allows us to shine a spotlight on caregivers. Through hearing their stories and experiences, we can offer support and validation, while also recognizing them as unique individuals outside of their role as a caregiver. That, to me, makes this role one of the most meaningful and rewarding social work positions I have had,” reflects Bryn.

Know someone interested in exploring meaningful careers in social work at Fraser Health? Share these exciting opportunities with your network.

Learn more about accessing caregiver support services.

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