Someone to Lean On

Updated on November 18, 2013

Sep13_FinalRule_ivanko headshot copyBy Barbara Ivanko

“Lean on me when you’re not strong, and I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on.

For it won’t be long, ‘til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”

—“Lean on Me”, Bill Withers, 1972

For parents, caring for your kids’ basic needs is part of life. Even for new parents, the routine gets familiar quickly – and then they spend the next 18 years or so caring for their “bundle of joy” in a variety of ways.

Raising our kids is something that many people may take for granted. But caring for another adult through the course of a life-limiting illness – that’s a whole other story.

The National Alliance for Caregiving reports that nearly one in three adults in the United States cares for a loved one who is sick, elderly, or has special needs. Think about that number: one in three. Chances are you know someone who is an adult caregiver. It could be a member of your family, a friend, neighbor, or co-worker.

Despite that staggering number, many adult caregivers don’t have the knowledge or training they truly need to be responsible for the day-to-day comfort, support and care of their loved one.

Family Hospice and Palliative Care has taken a proactive approach to this important issue with our innovative Compassionate Caregiver Training Program™.  Family Hospice Caregiver Training supports caregivers by providing them with hands-on, personalized training in the skills needed for daily home care of their loved one This training is free to those with a loved one under our care,. With knowledge comes confidence. A confident caregiver is poised to meet the needs of those for whom they care.

We at Family Hospice were thrilled recently to learn that our Compassionate Caregiver Training Program™ is a finalist for the 2013 Fine Awards for Teamwork Excellence in Health Care. Bestowed in partnership with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Fine Award was established to encourage problem solving and quality improvement in health care.

Over the years, Family Hospice has seen the positive outcomes of this program; improved safety for both patient and loved ones, fewer perceived “emergencies”, greater confidence among caregivers, and decreased hospital readmissions for patients.

“Sometimes in our lives, we all have pain, we all have sorrow.

But if we are wise, we know that there’s always tomorrow.”

Family Hospice Caregiver Training is customized to the needs  of the patient and caregiver.
Family Hospice Caregiver Training is customized to the needs
of the patient and caregiver.

Linda knew the time was right for her husband to be under Family Hospice care. His Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) was advancing, his mobility was declining, and she saw her role as an adult caregiver becoming more complicated.

Along with her adult children Paula and Sean, Linda attended our Caregiver Training course. The family asked a lot of questions and learned specific information about their role in caring for Dad throughout the progression of his illness. Thanks to the open communication the family had with our educators, Linda, Paula and Sean left the session feeling much better prepared to provide care than they had before.

Adult caregiving is a daunting task, but at the same time is a huge part of many lives. Because we love those who are in our care, we want only the best for them. Equipping our caregivers with the training and knowledge they need enables them to be someone to lean on.

Barbara Ivanko is President and CEO of Family Hospice and Palliative Care. She has more than 20 years experience in the health care and hospice and is an active member of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. She may be reached at [email protected] or (412) 572-8800. Family Hospice and Palliative Care is a non-profit organization serving nine counties in Western Pennsylvania. More information at and

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