Are you looking for meaningful volunteer work? Do you want to contribute to an award-winning community support program? If so, consider becoming a volunteer with the Livable Communities Caregiver Coaching (L3C) Program, an initiative from the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS).

A Caregiver Coach is a volunteer trained by professionals to provide one-on-one support to family caregivers and help them understand their options. As a result, caregivers are better prepared to make informed decisions to meet the challenges and responsibilities of caring for an older or disabled person.

Caregiver Coaching falls under the big umbrella of the DSPS’ national award-winning Livable Communities initiative, which has been identified by AARP as one of the three model programs of its type in the U.S. By recruiting and training Caregiver Coaches, the initiative aims to make Westchester communities as senior-friendly as possible so older adults can remain in their homes as they age with dignity, independence and civic involvement. Caregiver Coaching directly helps to meet that goal by supporting those who care for seniors.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer said the success of the County’s Caregiver Coaching program is a testament to the growing need for caregiver support here in the County.

Latimer said: “Our residents are living longer, and that is good news. However, that means that many of our seniors will be living with chronic illnesses that require the help of caregivers. The Caregiver Coaching program is designed to assist caregivers in Westchester in the role they play by providing much needed support, as well as vital information about programs and services in the County. We need as many volunteers as possible to help make a difference in the quality of life for people in their communities.”

Caregiver Coach candidates may have caregiver experience, but it is not required. Caregiver Coaches are stabilizing forces and sounding boards, so the prospective coach should be optimistic, empathetic and non-judgmental. They do not take the place of professionals in the field or do caregiver tasks themselves, nor do they offer medical or legal advice.

Fordham University’s Ravazzin Center on Aging has developed the curriculum for this program which is taught by professionals, such as social workers, nurses and geriatric care managers. The training will provide volunteers with basic information such as “Understanding the Aging Process” and “Challenges Caregivers Face.” They will also learn specific coaching techniques such as how to convey factual information clearly. Coaches will feel well-prepared to meet the needs of the family caregivers with whom they are matched.

Training classes will take place over two days, for a total of about eight hours. Coaches will also attend monthly coach conversation meetings where challenges encountered during coaching can be shared and solutions can be generated. Guest speakers will also be part of coach conversations to promote continuing education for the coaches on topics related to their caregiver populations. These meetings serve to promote competency as well as camaraderie among the coaching team.

Since its inception, the Caregiver Coaching program has had a strong advocate in DSPS Commissioner Mae Carpenter.

Carpenter said: “At one time families were larger and society was less mobile. That meant there were always adult children and other relatives who could care for aging family members. But today not only are families smaller, but the adult children may live in another state. As a result, there’s a void that needs to be filled by caring neighbors and people.”

Carpenter believes that the Caregiver Coaching program is necessary to address that void by providing vital support and information to the family caregiver, especially in light of the rapidly growing elderly population within Westchester County.

In addition to DSPS, the L3C Caregiver Coaching program is sponsored by the Westchester Public/Private Partnership for Aging Services and Fordham University’s Ravazzin Center on Aging. For more information or to register, call DSPS at (914)-813-6441 or send an email to .