Exhale Grantee Partner Cohort 1 (2020-2023)

This page contains information and resources related to the first cohort of grantee partners in Exhale – The Family Caregiver Initiative. A first cohort of respite pilot projects emerged from an initial (2019) learning phase which brought 50+ rural Western New York organizations serving family caregivers and older adults together through five workshops to learn and apply creative problem-solving techniques, develop collaborative teams, and identify new strategies for supporting family caregivers. Organizations participating in the training were eligible to apply for respite pilot grant funding.

Cohort 1 Project Resources and Learning Community

Cohort 1 Participants

In three years, Cohort 1 Exhale projects have provided over 1,000 respite sessions to 3,250 caregivers while (at the same time) serving 2,450 older adults. All three work with partner organizations (including Offices for the Aging) to obtain referrals. Geographic expansion is also underway: HCA added Chautauqua County to its target market in 2022; Forever Young now operates in two Allegany County school systems; and West Falls Center for the Arts has successfully attracted replication partners (licensees) that are adopting the MMC model, including Amherst Senior Center, the Dale Association, and Canopy of Neighbors/Temple Beth Zion. All four MMC sites report growing enrollment, and most are operating at capacity.

Ardent Solutions – Forever Young

Forever Young is a collaboration between Ardent Solutions, Inc., the Genesee Valley Central School District (GVCS), the Wellsville School District, and the Allegany County Office for the Aging. Forever Young utilizes school system resources to provide educational and social programming with the goal of establishing connections between community youth and older adults to benefit both age groups and to offer respite to family caregivers of older adults. Caregivers may choose to participate in school activities or drop their loved one off for time away to take a break. Feedback from caregivers and older adult participants in Forever Young has been highly positive. Data also suggests that once participants join Forever Young, they return again and again. For more information, contact Carrie Whitwood at whitwoodc@ardentnetwork.org.

Healthy Community Alliance – Caregiver Tech Solutions

Caregiver Tech Solutions, a collaboration between Health Community Alliance, Total Senior Care PACE, three local Offices for the Aging (Cattaraugus, Wyoming, Chautauqua), and other local partners, uses individualized coaching and technology resources to provide respite to caregivers using a model that emphasizes flexibility to address what matters most to participants. The program focuses on how digital and physical technology can be used to help caregivers remotely achieve a sense of relief (respite), learn self-care techniques, and solve new problems in caregiving. The program includes distributing and setting-up free technology solutions to caregivers to achieve respite.

In its first year, Caregiver Tech Solutions showed positive outcomes when comparing pre- and post- caregiver assessments and results of the Caregiver Intensity Index (CII), including reduced mean CII scores, an increased sense of support, and more frequent respite experiences. Findings included statistically significant decreases in overall caregiver burden, stress, family disagreement, and statistically significant increase in reported “more time for me” among participants. HCA is exploring broader WNY and statewide partnerships for expansion and long-term sustainability of Caregiver Tech Solutions. For more information, contact Ann Battaglia at abattaglia@hcanetwork.org.

West Falls Center for the Arts – Musical Memories Cafe

Musical Memories Café (MMC) uses music, meal service, and supportive services to engage individuals with dementia and their caregivers in activities that offer entertainment, social support, and respite. Grant funding and other services provided through Exhale are facilitating expansion and replication of the model in other western New York communities, as well as the development of infrastructure (e.g., website and tools) to support that expansion and sustainability through a potential mix of funding sources. West Falls Center for the Arts provides technical support and online training with videos and tutorials on how to implement and sustain the program (https://www.musicalmemoriescafe.org/). West Falls reports very high levels of engagement at both the original and replication MMC sites, as well as positive caregiver outcomes, including stress reduction and a sense of emotional support. For example:

  • 88% of participating caregivers said MMC helped reduce stress associated with caregiving
  • 95% felt emotionally supported
  • 84% said that MMC helped them to be a better caregiver
  • 96% said that MMC is beneficial to the wellbeing of their care
  • 74% said they are better informed because of MMC
  • 61% said MMC helped them find community resources to help with caregiving

For more information, contact Carolyn Panzica at carolynpanzica@icloud.com.

“[My husband and I] started going to Musical Memories Café…And it was just the best thing that ever happened to us, because the musicians were just fabulous. They played feel-good music. Everybody joined in when there was singing, and especially the people with Alzheimer’s that were really inclined –you know, they couldn’t sit still in their seats – they would get up, they would be clapping, and they would be encouraged to get up and dance… I can’t say enough about how they touch your soul. And the caregivers just – that hour seems like a three-day weekend.”

Musical Memories Cafe Participant