Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) - VA Caregiver Support Program
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VA Caregiver Support Program

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Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS)


Program of General Caregiver Support Services

The Program of General Caregiver Support Services (PGCSS) is one of two programs within the Caregiver Support Program. PGCSS provides peer support mentoring, skills training, coaching, telephone support, online programs, and referrals to available resources to caregivers of Veterans. The Veteran must be enrolled in Veterans Affairs (VA) health care and be receiving care from a caregiver in order for the caregiver to participate. Caregivers who participate in PGCSS are called General Caregivers. General Caregivers do not need to be a relative or live with the Veteran.

Is PGCSS Right for You?
If you are a caregiver of a Veteran enrolled in VA health care who is interested in connecting with other caregivers, receiving additional support from a professional care team, or looking to enhance your skills as a caregiver, PGCSS may be right for you.

Am I a General Caregiver?
A General Caregiver is a person who provides personal care services to a Veteran enrolled in VA health care who: needs assistance with one or more activities of daily living or needs supervision or protection based on symptoms or residuals of neurological care or other impairment or injury.

Steps for Enrollment –
Every Veterans Affairs medical center (VAMC) is staffed with a Caregiver Support Program (CSP) team. This team can help assist you with determining the resources and services available for you and assist you with enrolling in CSP programs.

There is no formal application required to enroll in PGCSS. Please contact your local CSP team to complete the following steps:

1. Reach out to the facility CSP team or request a referral from the Veteran’s provider.
2. Complete an intake with the facility CSP Team. The Veteran will need to agree to receive care from you as their caregiver, as you will be listed in their healthcare record.
3. Enroll and begin to utilize the supports and services offered.

Services Provided Through PGCSS

Skills Training

VA S.A.V.E. Training
VA S.A.V.E. is a skills training that provides information and steps that anyone can take when a Veteran may be at risk for suicide. S.A.V.E. stands for signs, ask, validate, encourage and expedite. Caregivers play an important role in suicide prevention. They may be the first to notice changes in the Veteran or may be the one that a Veteran turns to when having suicidal thoughts. It is important that caregivers have the tools they need to intervene. S.A.V.E. provides simple steps that anyone can take when talking with Veterans at risk for suicide.

Building Better Caregivers (BBC) 
Building Better Caregivers (BBC) is an online six-week workshop that helps caregivers in two key ways: training in how to provide better care, and helping caregivers learn how to manage their own emotions, stress and physical health. After the workshop, you can stay connected to other caregivers through the alumni community. This service is free and secure. Connect with other caregivers today!  Read the BBC Fact Sheet(pdf) to learn more.

Mobile Support

Annie Caregiver Text Program 
Annie, the VA’s text messaging service, has several text programs for caregivers. Caregivers can receive messages to help them manage stress, take better care of themselves, manage dementia behaviors, and cope with bereavement. Messages may be educational, motivational or an activity to manage stress. You may stop the service at any time.  Caregivers need a phone capable of text messaging to enroll.  Talk to your Caregiver Support Coordinator to receive Annie messages.

One on One Coaching

Resources for Enhancing All Caregivers Health (REACH) VA
You can participate in REACH VA via individual sessions. Connect with a coach who will provide you with a workbook and help you with a variety of issues caregivers face. They will coach you in stress management, problem solving, self-care and healthy behaviors, as well as Veteran safety, behaviors, problems or concerns linked to a diagnosis. Your assigned coach will call you for a total of four sessions, over a two to three-month period. If you participate in support groups, you  and other caregivers will meet together with a coach. The same REACH sessions and training will occur during six group sessions over three to six months. Learn more about the REACH VA Program

Whole Health Coaching
Whole Health is VA’s cutting-edge approach to care and supports your health and well-being. It centers around what matters to you, not what is the matter with you. A Whole Health Coach is your personal guide who works with you to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals. The Whole Health Coach uses the Circle of Health visual tool to help explore connections between important aspects of your life and a self-assessment tool known as the Personal Health inventory to help you create your Personal Health Plan. Whole Health Coaches are trained to draw on your strengths and values to optimize your efforts towards achieving your aspirations.

*Available at select sites. Partner with your local CSP team to determine availability.

Group Support and Coaching

Caregiver Self-Care/Resilience Courses
Caregiver Self-Care courses are in-person or virtual group trainings provided to caregivers with a focus on supporting and meeting their needs. The classes are led by trained facilitators. In these fun and interactive sessions, you might learn about managing stress or coping with your emotions, you may learn a new relaxation technique such as yoga, meditation, or qigong, you may listen to music or practice Zen doodling. Contact your Caregiver Support Coordinator to find out which classes are available for your facility.

CaregiversFIRST
Caregivers FIRST (Caregivers Finding Important Resources, Support, and Training), is an evidence-based skills training program for caregivers of Veterans of all eras and diagnoses. Caregivers FIRST is a highly adaptable grab-and-go curriculum package that includes a series of four proactive group classes to help caregivers build self-care and psychological coping, health system navigation, and hands-on clinical skills.

Resources for Enhancing All Caregivers Health (REACH) VA
You can participate in REACH VA via group sessions. Connect with a coach who will provide you with a workbook and help you with a variety of issues caregivers face. They will coach you in stress management, problem solving, self-care and healthy behaviors, as well as Veteran safety, behaviors, problems or concerns linked to a diagnosis. Your assigned coach will call you for a total of four sessions, over a two to three-month period. If you participate in support groups, you and a coach and other caregivers will meet together. The same REACH sessions and training will occur during six group sessions over three to six months. Learn more about the REACH VA Program.

Peer Support Mentoring Program 
The Caregiver Peer Support Mentoring (PSM) program was developed to strengthen relationships between caregivers, to provide an opportunity for networking and to empower caregivers to help one another. PSM provides an opportunity for caregivers to receive guidance and to share their experience, wisdom, skills and passion with other caregivers.

In addition to providing support, PSM also helps caregivers to establish relationships with each other and create a comfort zone for support. Learn more about PSM by reading the fact sheet below.

If you would like to participate, please contact your Caregiver Support Program Team

Additional/Other Support

Respite Care
Respite care is a program that pays for care for a short time when family caregivers need a break, need to run errands, or need to go out of town for a few days. Respite Care can be helpful to Veterans of all ages, and their caregivers.

Why is Respite Care important?
Self-care is important for caregivers. Respite care can be a resource to help prevent burn-out and allow you time to take care of your own needs with the comfort of knowing your Veteran is in a safe and caring environment.

VA Respite Care
Respite care through VA is offered by the Office of Geriatrics and Extended Care (GEC). Visit GEC’s webpage for more information about respite care for caregivers: https://www.va.gov/GERIATRICS/pages/Respite_Care.asp.

Connection and referrals to available VA and community resources

CSP Resource Fairs
Caregiver and Family Resource Fairs, provided through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Caregiver Support Program (CSP), offer caregivers the opportunity to find a wealth of support from a variety agencies, organizations and non-profits. Caregivers also find the fairs helpful in broadening their networks. Visit CSP’s Events page to find a resource fair near you: VA Caregiver Support Program (CSP) - Events - VA Caregiver Support Program

Need Help?

Your local Caregiver Support Coordinator is a licensed professional who can support you by matching you with services for which you are eligible, and providing you with valuable information about resources that can help you stay smart, strong and organized as you care for the Veteran you love.

Call VA’s Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 to learn more about the support that is available to you and for assistance connecting with the Caregiver Support Coordinator at your local VA Medical Center.  We’re here Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET.

*Be sure to check back for updates or subscribe to receive email updates and information about VA Caregiver Support Program services.

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