Eastern Michigan University Department of Psychology keeps caregivers connected to vital behavioral health support during ‘Stay Home, Stay Safe’ order

With support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, EMU Community Behavioral Health Clinic offers online individual and group skills training for caregivers of persons with cognitive loss or dementias

YPSILANTI — The Eastern Michigan University Community Behavioral Health Clinic, with support from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund, is linking caregivers to vital behavioral health resources via telehealth services during the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders.

The new telehealth services were created in response to the increased concern for the health and safety of caregivers and the family members they assist amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.

“Family caregivers of individuals with cognitive loss from Alzheimer's disease, Lewy bodies disease and other medical conditions find themselves in novel situations due to the pandemic,” said Claudia Drossel, EMU assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, which operates the Community Behavioral Health Clinic. “Resources that they used to count on for assistance are limited as day centers and senior centers have closed their doors, and respite has become rarer.”

Drossel notes that many families are disconnected from established supports or from previous means to maintain wellbeing and quality of life. Individuals with cognitive loss benefit from activity and engagement, and a break in routines can have negative consequences on mood and behavior. As caregivers restrict activities to implement smart distancing, these restrictions may strain relationships with persons with cognitive loss.

Since 2017, the EMU Community Behavioral Health Clinic has offered special programs for caregivers of individuals with cognitive loss in Southeastern Michigan.

In response to the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order, existing clinic or home-based services are now available via telehealth. The goals of the telehealth program, administered by Drossel with the help of Rachel VanPutten, a doctoral trainee in the Department of Psychology, are to:

  • Equip caregivers to manage high-stress situations; and
  • collaborate with local providers to quickly identify families who would benefit from additional support.

The current program, funded by the Michigan Health Endowment fund, reflects efforts in the state of Michigan to develop innovative and specialized behavioral health services promoting the health and well-being of individuals with cognitive loss and their families.

“Family members provide support to loved ones with cognitive loss on a 24/7 basis during the COVID-19 pandemic,” VanPutten says. “Many family members can benefit from coaching to manage emotions and behavior in a high-stress situation and to avoid conflict.”

Interested families can call (734) 627-7620 to learn more about the program.

EMU’s Community Behavioral Health Clinic is a training clinic that offers convenient, low fee services for a range of concerns. Clinical psychology graduate students, supervised by licensed faculty, provide services. For more information on the Eastern Michigan University Community Behavioral Health Clinic and the services it offers, visit the Clinic’s website.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

May 20, 2020

Written by:
Morgan Mark

Morgan Mark