Medical program helps Sacramento County caregivers take a break

Published: Saturday, May. 11, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 12, 2013 - 2:55 pm

With the rate of Alzheimer's disease projected to rise as baby boomers age, more people will face the problem of caring for loved ones with dementia.

A program funded by the Sierra Health Foundation offers these caregivers a break.

It is one of four newly funded programs announced by the Respite Partnership Collaborative, a private-public partnership of the Sierra Health Foundation, Center for Health Program Management and Sacramento County Division of Behavioral Health Services.

All are geared toward giving either the mentally ill or highly stressed family members a respite, or a temporary break, from their circumstances.

Ultimately, the funding comes from the Mental Health Services Act, a statewide initiative California voters passed in 2004.

The dementia program, called the Del Oro Caregiver Resource Center, aims to reduce the likelihood that caregivers will develop mental health issues and need hospitalization themselves, said Myel Jenkins, program officer for the Respite Partnership Collaborative.

Three other new programs funded by the Respite Partnership Collaborative focus on providing the parents of adoptive children, the Iu-Mien community and mentally ill patients places to take a restorative rest from life's stresses.

For people experiencing a mental health crisis, a new residential, five-bed facility called Abiding Hope Respite House offers a three- to five-day stay in a home environment.

The facility, run by Turning Point Community Programs, offers psychiatric support and peer-directed recovery services for adults with psychiatric disabilities, said Al Rowlett, chief operating officer of Turning Point.

A third program aims to stabilize adoptive families by providing a family respite camp for parents and their adopted, emotionally disturbed children. Called Capital Adoptive Families Alliance, the effort involves coaching kids on how to develop social skills.

Lastly, the United Iu-Mien Community Inc. has developed a program to assist the Iu-Mien community by raising awareness of mental health issues through respite support that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.

The effort will aid in preserving and teaching the Iu-Mien culture, and assist the community – which has no language to address mental health or illness – in making adjustments to living in the Sacramento region.

The Respite Partnership Collaboration is releasing a second round of funding aimed at attracting programs to reroute people from emergency rooms for acute mental health needs. The sum of $1 million is available for 24-hour solutions that will redirect the flow of mentally ill patients away from emergency rooms.

"There is a powerful opportunity to develop effective alternatives to hospitalization that will provide more appropriate care and ease emergency room overcrowding in Sacramento County," said Sierra Health Foundation President Chet Hewitt. Information for the each of the four programs is at www.mentalhealthrespite.org.

Call The Bee's Cynthia H. Craft, (916) 321-1270. Follow her on Twitter @cynthiahcraft.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.

Read more articles by Cynthia H. Craft



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