Opens Business Leaders' Eyes to
First of Two Articles
A group of service agencies in Waukesha, Wisconsin is using a Caregiver Simulation
Project to educate employers about the needs of their
employees who are caring for aging relatives. With grant
funding from the local United Way in
www.unitedwaywaukesha.org the group held a first-ever
event at Carroll University that was attended by representatives
of local businesses.
I recently interviewed four of the key organizers of
the event: Kathy Gale executive director, Carrie Anderson,
program manager, and Marie Honel, community outreach coordinator
at Interfaith Senior Programs
www.interfaithwaukesha.org, and Lynda Markut, workplace
education coordinator for the Alzheimer's Association
of Southeast Wisconsin www.alz.org.
JPM: Is this project part of a larger initiative of the
Gale: This is part of a United Way caregiver
consortium grant to bring about a better awareness
and understanding of the services and other
assistance available to caregivers. There are three
components: awareness, access, and assistance.
We did a focus group about a year ago and we
learned that the caregivers in the county were having a
difficult time finding the services available to them,
even though the supply of services is very good.
Markut: The local Area Agency on Aging did some
important background work on this issue and gave us
some good materials they had developed to give
corporations a better understanding as to how they
would benefit from supporting caregivers.
JPM: How did this project come about?
Gale: One area of focus for the local United Way is
the local business community. So, wanted to help
raise awareness for employers to know what their
caregivers are going through - and how hard it is to
manage their jobs with the responsibilities for
caregiving. And, rather continue to go out and make
presentations, we wanted to offer something that is
more hands- on. We wanted participants to leave the
event saying "Boy, that is difficult. I walked in their
shoes for a short time and I really "get" this." So, we
looked at the model of poverty simulation that has
been used successfully for many years in many
places. We based our event on this model.
JPM: How does the Caregiver Simulation event
Gale: A group of HR professionals and business
owners were invited to come to an event and spend
about 45 minutes using a written scenario to
experience what it's like to be a caregiver. Each
participant had assigned tasks to accomplish. These
business people then interacted with others who
represented service coordinators at different "stations"
located throughout a large meeting room. They were
asked to talk to the representatives at the stations and
attempt to have their needs met.
In addition, two participants had individuals
assigned to them who played the role of care
recipient. The "caregiver" had to take the care recipient
along with them to visit the stations and engage them
in the process of learning about and selecting
JPM: What were the stations that the participants
visited and how did they interact?
Markut: First, we gathered everyone in a large
room and they completed a pre-test survey and they
were given a general instructions and an overview of
the services offered. Next, they undertook the 45-
minute exercise by visiting the stations. Finally, they all
re-convened as a large group where they participated
in a facilitated discussion and completed a post-test.
There were stations for housing, adult day care,
doctors, counseling and support groups, computer,
county services, and employer benefit station. There
were five different scenarios, each with five different
action plans where the participants were given
different sets of priorities for the services they were to
Next Month: Part Two of our article on the
Caregiver Simulation Project will highlight the results
of the event.
Paul Marosy is the author of Elder Care: A
Six Step Guide to Balancing
Work and Family, available from Bringing Elder
Care Home Publishing online
at our Web site or by calling