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ShareTheCaregiving: a program of the National Center for Civic Innovation

Caregiver FAQ

Is Share The Care™ a support group?

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No.  STC is a group caregiving model that allows people (friends, neighbors, co-workers and acquaintances to organize into a “caregiving family” to help someone they know in need of help.  The group’s efforts are meant not only to help the care recipient but also the family caregiver and the rest of the family. And if someone has no family nearby, the group forms to become their “family.”


Why do we need a group?  Why not just hire a nurse’s aide?

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A STC group does not take the place of a professional caregiver, however, not everyone can afford to hire a full time aide.   A STC group AND a nurse’s aide can all part of the same team.   Friends have a head start as they know the care recipient (and their family) and can fill many needs that the professional is not legally allowed to do.   For example: fundraising, research, taking care of the kids or pets, and keeping the recipient’s creative projects going or just hanging out.


How does a Share The Care™ group begin?

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 A group might start at the suggestion of a friend, neighbor, co-worker or through someone who has experienced being in a STC group.  Sometimes a family caregiver finds STC on the internet and decides it’s a good solution for their loved one’s circumstance.  Even the person needing the support may discover the model and tell their friends “this is how you can help me.”

And very often a health professional or the clergy might introduce this option to a family they know who is struggling with overwhelming caregiving responsibilities.


I’ve never been a caregiver before…I’m not sure I can do it.

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There is no better way to learn how to be a caregiver than in the company of others, many of whom may be veteran caregivers.  No one is born knowing how to be a caregiver…we learn through necessity.   Once you have experienced how great if feels to make a real difference in the life of a friend, you understand the profound power of caring and love.


Do I have to be a professional to start a Share The Care™ group?

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Absolutely not.  With step-by-step directions, two people can organize the first meeting. They might be friends, neighbors, or co-workers.  They will work with the care recipient/family to create a list of whom to invite and to figure out what kind of help will be needed.  Chapters 2-9 in the STC book are written to them and explain in detail the STC systems and forms.  The entire meeting is scripted.  Thousands have done this meeting successfully and come away feeling focused, committed and energized.


Did you just “make-up” this caregiving model?

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Actually it came out of the real-life experiences of 12 people (who didn’t know each other) who joined forces to support a mutual friend when she reached a crisis during her battle with terminal cancer.  The STC manual covers not only how to organize a group but also how to keep it going.  By sharing working as a tight knit team and sharing the responsibilities, they can maintain their efforts over long periods of time.  The friendships that evolve during the experience are a special benefit.


Why can’t you just send us someone to start a STC group?

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We believe in empowering people to start and maintain their own STC group.

Our philosophy is like the saying: “give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” The STC book is your guide.  Everything is explained in great detail and the systems are very logical and simple.  Thousands of people have created STC “caregiving families” all across the US and in other countries.

We do provide online and telephone support to anyone who needs it.


Is STC only for cancer patients or people who are at end of life?

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Not at all.  STC groups have make a profound difference for people with every imaginable illness (temporary, long term to terminal) as well as for people with disabilities.  Groups can do much during the recuperation process after an accident, major surgery, or combat.  They are also a wonderful way to support the elderly who need some assistance to remain safely in their home.  It benefits women with small children who are undergoing a difficult pregnancy, and help in the case of multiple births, or preemies.  Widow(ers) have also benefited from a group especially when they have small children, as have grandparents raising grandkids on their own.


What do Share The Care groups do?

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 They can do just about anything they set their mind to do…from everyday support (cooking, shopping, cleaning and going to doctor’s appointments) to fundraising, or keeping a small business running.  A group can make it possible for a caregiver to keep working and bringing in a salary.  They can accompany a care recipient out of the country/state for alternative treatments, and make it possible for patients to pursue their dreams–writing a book, painting, creating a labyrinth or garden, building a house, writing a musical.


How many people do you need for a Share The Care™ Group?

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Groups have been as small as 6 to over 100 people.  They usually average about 20-40 members yet older adults prefer a much smaller group.  Even if you have a small number to start, get going and plan to grow the team as you work.

8 people giving 3 hours a week can mean 24 hours of support to start.


What if I can’t help out every week?

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The good news is you can still make a difference by taking on the role of a “free-floater” or someone who can only help occasionally or in times of an emergency when someone is needed.   All kinds of help is welcome.


How can I tell a friend about Share The Care – they live in another state?

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Probably the best way to introduce them to the STC model is to send them to our comprehensive website so they can explore and learn about how STC works. We also provide email and telephone support so they can contact us with any questions.


Are Share The Care™ groups made up of only women?

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 Not at all.  Increasingly more and more men are caregivers and very good ones at that.  Being in a STC group means offering the help one feels comfortable giving.  There are certain jobs that men may feel more suited to do.  We know of groups with men who have taken on the role of getting their “buddy” (with ALS) up, shaved and dressed for the day and then returning in the evenings to get him showered and ready for bed.  That’s just one example.


What makes Share The Care™ groups different from volunteer groups?

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The main difference in STC groups and Volunteers is that they already have a relationship with person they are caring for.  Being a friend, sometimes, means that they will go above and beyond the call of duty to make something happen.

Though volunteers often develop close friendships with their care recipient they don’t start that way.


What’s the goal of ShareTheCaregiving?

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 Our mission is to improve the quality of life of anyone who needs support–and to reduce the stress, depression, isolation and economic hardship of their caregivers.  We believe that as our aging population continues to grow and more people need care, one way we can make a difference is to be part of a caregiving group.  Being part of a STC group is a wonderful way to prepare more people to be caregivers.


How can I help ShareTheCaregiving with its mission?

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There are many ways you can help.  Making a donation will help cover the cost of maintaining the organization so we can keep working to get the word out.  This includes covering the costs of educational materials, upkeep of our website, and new projects that are being developed to specifically assist more caregivers, health professionals, faith communities and working caregivers.

Please tell us about your group experiences and feel free to offer your suggestions. We welcome you stories and photos to inspire others to create their own STC groups.  Tell people you know in need of caregiving support that this model is a rewarding option for their consideration.