PHILADELPHIAStrength for Caring is a community-based
educational program led by trained nurses or social workers who teach
caregivers about the skills and resources they need to care for a
loved one with cancer.
Strength for Caring is typically conducted in half-day sessions in
convenient locations such as health care facilities or community
centers. The program uses slides, instructional videos, and
interactive discussion to address issues commonly encountered by
cancer caregivers, including understanding cancer and its treatment,
managing symptoms such as fatigue and pain, dealing with changing
family roles, improving their own mental and physical health, and
identifying and taking advantage of community resources.
In addition, all participants receive a Strength for Caring
Caregiver Information Kit, a set of materials that help caregivers
feel more confident and prepared about the care they will provide.
Strength for Caring is free and open to anyone who is or will be a
cancer care-giver. The ideal times for caregivers to participate in
the program are at the patients diagnosis, at the beginning or
end of a treatment cycle, at recurrence, or when there is a change in
treatment goals, because such transition points are frequently
associated with increased feelings of stress and vulnerability.
Table 1. A Profile of Cancer Caregivers
A study from the Journal of Family Nursing has provided a
profile of the typical cancer caregiver (Table 1), as well as a
report on the impact of caregiving on the caregivers physical,
emotional, and financial health (Table 2). The study was based on
questionnaires from 750 cancer caregivers who participated in the
University of Pennsylvania Family Caregiver Cancer Education Program,
the predecessor of the Strength for Caring program.
Table 2. Consequences of Cancer Caregiving
Strength for Caring was developed at the University of
Pennsylvania School of Nursing and is made possible through a grant
from Ortho Biotech Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company. Cancer
caregivers and patients can learn where the program is being
conducted in their area by calling 1-888-ICARE80 (1-888-422-7380) or
visiting the website on the Internet at www.oncolink.upenn.edu/sfc.