Coaches for Caregivers
The Maria Mencia Cancer Caregiver Support Network offers support for caregivers by linking them with volunteer coaches through a partnership with Cancer Services in Midland.
Volunteer caregiver coaches provide one-on-one emotional support to caregivers and help provide logistical support by linking caregivers with friends, relatives and neighbors to assist with everyday needs such as meals, laundry, errands, transportation, and rest and respite for the caregiver.
"Caregiver coaches help to meet the needs of caregivers so they can continue to support the needs of those they love," said Agnes Williams, MidMichigan Medical Center–Midland medical social worker and coordinator of the Maria Mencia Cancer Caregiver Support Network. "The responsibilities of providing care for a loved one with cancer can be overwhelming. Caregivers often are on the front lines of providing medical care – sorting medications and transporting patients to treatments – while also juggling the responsibilities of a job, family and household."
"People often offer to help, but caregivers may not know how to manage these offers of assistance," Williams explained. "Volunteer coaches help caregivers make the best of their personal resources by creating schedules for relieving caregivers and offering emotional support."
How to Sign On for a Caregiver Coach
Families and friends who are primary caregivers of loved ones with cancer may contact Agnes Williams, L.M.S.W., Coordinator, Maria Mencia Cancer Caregiver Support Network, at (989) 839-1364 to learn if a caregiver coach would be helpful.
After a brief assessment of the caregivers’ situation and needs, the caregiver is linked with a coach. Coaches are trained through the Medical Center’s volunteer program to offer social and planning support and to provide caregivers with information on community resources. Coaches are scheduled at least once a month to meet with caregivers and provide phone support as needed. They work closely with Williams and the medical staff to help inform them of the challenges family caregivers may face.
"Our goal is to see every MidMichigan cancer patient and their caregiver," she said. "We want to make sure caregivers have the support and resources they need to not only manage their daily responsibilities and loved ones’ care but also the emotional stress that they may be experiencing."
How to Become a Caregiver Coach
Coping with caring for a loved one with cancer can be a daunting task. By volunteering as a caregiver coach through the Maria Mencia Cancer Caregiver Support Network, you can help ensure that caregivers have the support and resources they need to take care of themselves and their loved one. It is preferred that caregiver coaches have a personal experience with cancer as either a patient or a caregiver.
If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Agnes Williams,
L.M.S.W., Coordinator, Maria Mencia Cancer Caregiver Support Network, at (989) 839-1364 for more details.
Program Founded by Caregiver
The idea for the support program network began with Luis Mencia of Midland, whose wife, Maria, passed away after a courageous battle with cancer at age 46.
Learn more about how this program was founded.