In October 2017, The Center on Aging and Disability Policy at Mount Saint Mary College was awarded a 3-year grant by the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (NYS DDPC) to provide Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training to family members who are providing care to individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities. As a result of this funding support, the “ProActive Caring Program” was developed.
The ProActive Caring team is a collaboration of family caregivers; faculty, staff, and independent contractors affiliated with the Center on Aging and Disability Policy at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY; individual practitioners; and staff, advocates and self-advocates of community-based agencies throughout New York State.
In the first year, drawing from the Vanderbilt University's Kennedy Center Parent Stress Intervention Program, the ProActive Caring team implemented a pilot program in partnership with family caregivers and agencies and organizations in the Hudson Valley and the Capital District. In the second year, Train-the-Trainer sessions were conducted for additional family caregivers and agency/organization staff so that the ProActive Caring stress reduction training could be offered in local communities across New York State. Finally, in the third year, the ProActive Caring e-Manual was developed in collaboration with Mindy Scirri,Ph.D., and Theresa Drum of the Parent Network of Western New York (PNWNY). In addition, the ProActive Caring Program developed tools and resources to facilitate online and home-based learning (ProActive Caring - School Exchange, YouTube Channel, Facebook page, and ProActive Caring website).
In both the planning of the ProActive Caring program and implementation of these stages, the ProActive Caring team was guided by regional Advisory Councils made up of key stakeholders who provided important insights and feedback. A statewide group, drawn largely from the regional Advisory Councils, will help explore long-term funding and resources and provide leadership in supporting the ProActive Caring program.
We would also like to recognize the faculty, staff and family caregivers affiliated with the Center on Aging and Disability Policy at Mount Saint Mary College in Newburgh, NY, who developed the curriculum of ProActive Caring, provided input to the e-Manual, and formatted the final product: Lawrence T. Force, Ph.D., LCSW-R, and Jeffrey S. Kahana, Ph.D., J.D., Directors of the Center on Aging and Disability Policy; Elaine Sproat, Ph.D. (Cand.), Director of ProActive Caring; Sharon Murray-Cohen, LMSW; Elisa Gwilliam, Ph.D. (Cand.); Roger Monthie, Ph.D. (Cand.); Yasmine Kalkstein, Ph.D.; Peggy Pisano, MPS; Barbara Russell; Lisa Nathan; Dugan Radwin; and Diana Valentin-Miller.
Key community partners have included Nancy DeSando, RN, BSN, of the Arc Lexington; Susan Barlow, Executive Director of PNWNY; Sandra Brownsey, MS, CAS, of the Center for Spectrum Services; Sheila Jodlowski, Ph.D. of HVBS; and Jennifer Sutton of Independent Living, Inc. Staff of the Parent Stress Intervention Program at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities in Nashville, TN, introduced project staff to the curricula developed at Vanderbilt for an intervention research study for stress reduction in parents of children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
We would especially like to thank the New York State Developmental Disabilities Planning Council (NYS-DDPC) for funding a Caregiver Support Program focused on Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. Most support programs for family caregivers center on the needs of individuals for whom they are caring, rather than on the needs of the caregivers themselves. It is a tribute to New York State that the DDPC recognized the importance of caregiver well-being.
Lastly, the ProActive Caring team would like to thank YOU for downloading the ProActive Caring e-Manual and participating in this program. We wish you the best as you undertake a Mindfulness practice and take your first steps to a greater sense of well-being and better health!