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The District of Columbia Caregivers’ Institute (DCCI) is a non-profit organization for residents of the District of Columbia that provides services and support to unpaid primary caregivers of seniors who have limited functioning due to a physical or mental condition. Through this program, caregivers may receive help making important decisions about present and future situations, create and apply a plan of support, and recharge by participating in activities.
The aid given via DCCI is flexible and integrates a variety of support, enabling caregivers to better handle the circumstances of caregiving, including the ability to take care of themselves, along with the senior for which they are providing care. Caregivers learn to more efficiently solve problems, improve practical daily skills, as well as to better deal with change. A Caregiver Flex Account allows caregivers to be reimbursed for expenses related to caregiving. However, these expenses must be approved in advance.
The District of Columbia Office on Aging funds and administers the services available via the DCCI.
To be eligible for assistance under the DCCI program, the caregiver must be unpaid and providing care for an individual who is 60 years of age or older. Both the caregiver and the care recipient must be residents of the District of Columbia, and providing care to the senior must cause a financial strain on the caregiver.
Additionally, a minimum of two of the following five criteria must be met:
1. The care recipient requires care due to a mental or physical challenge. Behavioral and daily living challenges associated with Alzheimer’s or other dementias typically qualify.
2. The care recipient is in the low to middle income range
3. Caring for the care recipient creates stress for the caregiver
4. Without a caregiver, the care recipient would have to be placed in a care facility, such as assisted living or a nursing home
5. The caregiver requires assistance with caregiving
One exception as far as eligibility guidelines is the educational program provided by the DCCI program. It is a resource that is available to anyone and does not require that participants be a resident of the District of Columbia.
There are a number of services and resources available via the District of Columbia Caregivers’ Institute:
In-Home Assessments are completed by a social worker in order to determine what services and resources would be most useful to the caregiver and therefore are required for all program participants. Suggestions of ways to reduce the stress of caregiving and to better care for oneself may be made. Assistance with finding caregiving help and locating other resources may be covered, as well as discussing approved services and items that the caregiver may be reimbursed for via the Caregiver Flex Account.
Caregiver Flex Account
The primary caregiver cannot be paid for their caregiving role. However, this flex account does allow caregivers to be reimbursed for expenses associated with caregiving that have been pre-approved by the DCCI. (Original receipts must be provided for reimbursement). At the time of this writing, reimbursable expenses are capped at $150 / month. An expense that is typically allowed is to use the funds to pay other friends or family members to provide care.
This is a monthly (first Tuesday of the month) support group that allows caregivers to connect with other primary caregivers, as well as to gain useful information. In order to participate, the caregiver must register prior to the telephone support group. Via a conference call, the call organizer, an expert on a given topic, and caregivers are all connected. Each support group is approximately an hour in length.
Educational programs, which cover a variety of valuable topics, are open to anyone. However, one must register in advance to participate. Topics covered in the past include Learning Stress Reduction Techniques, Using Home Health Techniques for Caregivers, and Understanding Medicare and Medicaid. To learn what educational programs are coming up, call DCCI at 202-464-1513.
Caregiving Counseling Services
A social worker through DCCI provides counseling services and advice to primary caregivers. Ensuring the caregiver is receiving the aid he or she needs is also a priority.
Eligible applicants are accepted as funds become available in the order in which they applied. Once accepted to the program, a program orientation meeting, which is mandatory, will take place at the DC Office on Aging. Please make note, one must wait until an orientation is scheduled, with orientations taking place two to three times a year. This meeting will cover the requirements of the program, the services that are accessible, and how the Caregiver Flex Account works. The In-Home Assessment is also scheduled at this time, which will include completing a Caregiver Support Plan.