Powerful Tools for Caregivers
The Powerful Tools for Caregivers program provides caregivers with tools and strategies to better handle the unique challenges they face.
Program Origins and Development
Tools for Caregivers (PTC) and all materials were developed over 3
years of pilot testing, refinement and evaluative research to assess the
program’s effectiveness. Initiated through grant funding, the program
has been offered since 1998 in the United States. There are 3,000
trained PTC Class Leaders in 40 states as of 2015. Since the program’s
inception, Powerful Tools for Caregivers materials have reached over
PTC is based on the highly successful
Chronic Disease Self-Management Program developed by Dr. Kate Lorig and
her colleagues at Stanford University.
Brief Description of Caregiver Class Content
In the six weekly classes, caregivers develop a wealth of self-care tools to:
personal stress, change negative self-talk, communicate their needs to
family members and healthcare or service providers, communicate
effectively in challenging situations
- recognize the messages in their emotions, deal with difficult feelings, and make tough caregiving decisions.
- Class participants also receive a copy of The Caregiver Help book, developed specifically for the class.
Research and Outcomes
the years since the program began, a great deal of research, evaluation
and revision has been done to ensure its continued value and success.
The 6-week PTC class has been shown to have a positive impact on
caregiver health for a diverse group of caregivers including rural,
ethnic minorities, adult children of aging parents,
well-spouses/partners, caregivers at differing stages in their
caregiving role, living situations, financial and educational
backgrounds. Data from class participant evaluations indicates the PTC
program significantly improves:
- Self-Care Behaviors: (increased exercise, use of relaxation techniques and medical checkups.)
- Management of Emotions: (reduced guilt, anger, and depression.)
- Self-efficacy (increased confidence in coping with caregiving demands.)
- Use of Community Resources: (increased utilization of community services.)
2007, PTC received the National Family Caregiver Award for innovation,
responsiveness and effectiveness from the National Alliance for
Caregiving and the MetLife Foundation. In 2009, PTC received the Network
of Multicultural Aging Excellence Award from the American Society on
Aging/AARP. In 2012, the PTC program was recognized by the
Administration on Aging as having met its highest level criteria for
Powerful Tools for Caregivers - Class Description
Class #1: Taking Care of You
class sets the stage for the entire course. It emphasizes that the
focus is on “YOU, the caregiver, not on the family member receiving
care,” and that caregivers will develop a “box of self-care tools.” The
challenges of caregiving and significance of caregiver self-care are
dramatized through a video. Beginning in this class, caregivers make a
weekly action plan for self-care.
Class #2: Identifying and Reducing Personal Stress
steps are presented for effective stress management: (1) Identifying
early warning signs, (2) Identifying personal sources of stress, (3)
Changing what you can change and accepting what you cannot change, and
(4) Taking action. Tools to reduce stress are discussed. Participants
learn how to change negative self-talk – which increases stress and
erodes confidence – to positive self-talk. Beginning in this class,
caregivers learn five relaxation activities that are easy to incorporate
into their daily lives.
Class #3: Communicating Feelings, Needs, and Concerns
learn how to communicate their feelings, needs and concerns more
effectively by using “I” messages. Through brief dramatizations,
participants experience the impact of both “I” messages and “You”
messages (which tend to sound blaming and put people on the defensive).
They practice changing “You” messages to “I” messages, and identifying
when statements beginning with the word “I” are actually “Hidden You”
Class #4: Communicating in Challenging Situations
practice two communication tools – assertiveness and Aikido – which are
helpful in difficult situations. They learn a four-step process, called
DESC (Describe, Express, Specify, and Consequence) for using the
assertive style of communication. With Aikido, participants learn how to
align and find “common ground” with a person who is distressed. A
segment highlights guidelines for communicating with a person who is
Class #5: Learning From Our Emotions
overriding theme of this class is “our emotions are messages we need to
listen to.” It emphasizes that feelings occur for a reason and that
feelings are neither good nor bad. Focus is on identifying constructive
ways for dealing with difficult feelings – especially anger, guilt, and
depression – and resources for professional help.
Class #6: Mastering Caregiving Decisions
is on the internal emotional process caregivers go through when they
experience a life change. Tools for dealing with changes and for making
tough decisions – including a seven-step decision-making model and the
family meeting – are discussed.
Retrieved from Powerful Tools for Caregivers Website