Caregiving is an important task not only to those being cared for, but to Jesus himself, who said, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).
Whenever Jesus asks us to do something, he provides the grace to do it. Nourish for Caregivers is perhaps one of those graces, as a Christian ministry that supports family caregivers to sick, elderly or disabled persons.
During a time of new challenges and physical distance due to the coronavirus, the ministry is providing a free online webinar series featuring experts from across the nation. They will lead discussions on various caregiving topics such as caring for service members and veterans, the power of prayer to prevent burnout and caregiving in the present moment.
The Caregiving Wisdom Series of webinars began June 17 and will occur on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Upcoming dates are July 1, 15 and 29 at 8 p.m. eastern time. It’s free to sign up, and those interested can do so here. Once registered, participants can attend as many or as few sessions as they wish.
Archdiocesan native Aimee Gustitis led the first webinar on June 17, titled “Dispelling Fears Around Hospice Care.” With the archdiocesan Office for the New Evangelization, she helped to bring the first Nourish for Caregivers support group to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
She holds degrees in nursing and law, and frequently writes commentaries for regional publications including CatholicPhilly.com.
In the webinar, she explained common misconceptions about hospice care, like the misconception that hospice is only for the actively dying. She also went over insurance benefits and key admission steps — advising prayer as the very first step.
All of her advice was within the context of Christian core values and beliefs. She emphasized the dying process as a sacred time, and said caregivers “are carrying their loved one to the gates of heaven.”
Participating from around the nation, caregivers were able to submit questions via the Zoom chatbox feature. These questions were answered at the end of Gustitis’s talk, fielded by Deb Kelsey-Davis and Kelly Johnson, co-founders of Nourish for Caregivers and hosts of the webinar.
Gustitis also elaborated on hospice care in a recent commentary on CatholicPhilly.com, “Hope of hospice can set loved one path to eternal life.”
The next webinar, scheduled for July 1, is titled “How Prayer Can Help with Caregiver Burnout,” and will feature Rick Hamlin, executive director of Guideposts magazine.
On July 15, Melissa Comeau, director of the Military and Veteran Caregiver Network for the Red Cross, will lead the webinar on “Caregiving for a Service Member or a Veteran.”
Following on June 29, editor Carlos Briceno presents the webinar “Living and Caregiving in the Present Moment.”
Since Nourish for Caregivers was launched in 2018 at St. Mary of Gostyn Parish in Downers Grove, Illinois, it has grown to more than 50 groups across the country. The first Nourish for Caregivers support group in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia came to St. Anastasia Parish, Newtown in June 2019, where Gustitis is a parishioner.
Nourish for Caregivers provides “faith-based programs and resources to churches and organizations to support caregivers,” according to its website, NourishForCaregivers.com. Often churches and parishes host caregiver support groups, many of which have been unable to meet since the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States.
To continue this support while social distancing, Nourish for Caregivers is providing daily hour-long “house calls” at 11 a.m. Participants can join for community and encouragement via landline, cell phone or computer or tablet device.
Learn more about the house calls, and Nourish for Caregivers in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, at http://www.phillyevang.org/nourish/
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