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, including Parent Network of Western New York (PNWNY) in Buffalo, the Arc Lexington, the Center for Spectrum Studies, Independent Living, Inc, in Newburgh, Putnam Independent Living Services, Hudson
Valley Behavioral Solutions, and Access: Supports for Living.
In the first year, drawing from the Mindfulness Based Stress
Reduction (MBSR) and Positive Adult Development (PAD) programs developed at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) at Vanderbilt University, 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 Parent Network of Western New York (PNWNY). In addition, the
ProActive Caring program developed tools and resources to facilitate online and home-based learning, e.g., the ProActive Caring School Exchange, ProActive Caring YouTube Channel, ProActive Caring Facebook page, and ProActive Caring Digital Resource Center (PCDRC).
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 included 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, Director of ProActive Caring; Sharon Murray-Cohen, LMSW; Elisa Gwilliam; Roger Monthie; 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.
We would 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 (MBSR). 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.