A Compendium of Intervention and Descriptive Studies Designed to Promote the Health of Caregivers for Older Adults. Massachusetts Health and Aging Project


Sponsors. Massachusetts Department of Public Health (Office of Elder Health), Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) Family Caregiver Support Program, and MassPRO, the Healthcare Quality Improvement Organization in Massachusetts. The project was funded through a grant program funded by the National Association of State Units on Aging and the Association of State and Territorial Chronic Disease Program Directors. Ten states received grants.

Purpose. The purpose of the grant was to encourage collaboration between state health departments and state units on aging. The 10-month project in Massachusetts was designed to accomplish two goals: (1) encourage caregivers age 65 and older to increase their use of most or all prevention screening benefits provided through the Medicare program, and (2) recruit caregivers as liaisons in bringing prevention messages to the Medicare beneficiaries (older adults and younger persons with disabilities) for whom they care.

Description. Two strategies were developed to improve caregivers' use of prevention benefits under Medicare Part B. First, train-the-trainer workshops were developed. The curriculum for these sessions was written in collaboration with an MPH student at the Tufts University School of Public Health and project partners. Six train-the-trainer workshops were conducted to educate caregiver specialists and elder care advisors (through the EOEA Family Caregiver Support Program) in six regions across the state. The trainers were then expected to reach out to caregivers and provide them with information on prevention benefits under Medicare Part B. Second, working in collaboration with three students from Boston University's Hot House Productions, the project team developed a health communications video to reach older consumers with information about their prevention benefits under Medicare Part B.

Results. All train-the-trainer workshops have been completed. Thirty-five family caregiver support staff members were trained at these sessions. Each training program served as an opportunity to revise and refine the presentation. Evaluations completed at the training sessions indicated that 75 percent of those trained had little to some knowledge of the prevention benefits under Medicare Part B before the session; 25 percent of those trained had a fair amount of prior knowledge of the topic. More than 95 percent of the trainees judged the information to be useful and indicated that they would use the information in their work.26

The project also developed and circulated a health communications video, "Take Charge: Medicare Part B Benefits and You," for use on cable TV programs and for individual and group viewing. The video is close-captioned for the hearing impaired. As part of the development process, project partners, social marketing staff, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) staff previewed the video to verify content and messages. Staff from the Family Caregiver Support program and some older consumers also previewed the video to provide additional feedback on its format and length.

Next Steps. The grant ended in June 2003.

Contact Person.

Lillian Colavecchio, MSS, ACSW
Office of Elder Health
Massachusetts Department of Public Health
250 Washington Street, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 624-5451
Fax: (617) 624-5075
Email: lillian.colavecchio@state.ma.us

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