Five Reasons Our Video Series Can Support Family Caregivers — and the Nurses Who Work With Them

Five Reasons Our Video Series Can Support Family Caregivers — and the Nurses Who Work With Them

Since AARP started partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs beginning last year to produce a series of 10 videos (five in English, five in Spanish) through the Home Alone Alliance, which I first wrote about here, we’ve only gotten more excited about the project.

The goal of the videos is to bridge the gap between what family caregivers are expected to do and the information and know-how actually bestowed on them. Just as importantly, nurses can take advantage of the videos as a resource, as another tool to inform them of how caregivers will most efficiently learn a task.

Chances are, if you’re caring for a person at home, sooner or later you might need them. As my colleague Rita Choula, a senior adviser at AARP, points out, the topics weren’t chosen randomly. The AARP Public Policy Institute col0laborated with the United Hospital Fund to conduct multiple discussion groups with family caregivers. The findings, published in a September 2016 report, showed that little information was available that reflected situations family caregivers are likely to find themselves in.

“There aren’t a ton of videos that show how to do medical nursing tasks,” says Choula. “Many of those that exist are done in a sterile hospital with nurses working on dummies in a hospital bed. They don’t reflect a family caregiver’s reality.”

Meeting a Need

We ensure a strong product in the instructional videos through collaboration. We partner with numerous organizations such as the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at the University of California – Davis, the Family Caregiver Alliance and the United Hospital Fund, all of whom provide different areas of expertise. With our production team hard at work on a new series focused on wound care (covering topics such as dealing with newly sutured wounds, bedsores, cellulitis and diabetic foot care), I want to share five reasons we’re so excited about our growing video offerings — and what sets them apart.

  1. Family caregivers are featured in the videos. Most videos take place in a realistic home setting, and viewers can identify with the family caregivers on screen, gaining confidence in their abilities to perform challenging tasks. Segments show health care professionals actively working with the family caregiver in training how to perform the tasks.


  1. They reflect a variety of cultures. The videos we’ve produced so far intentionally reflect multicultural communities. And as for language, at least two of the videos in each series, for example, are available in Spanish. We will continue that trend, adding other languages as well (e.g., Cantonese, Mandarin, etc.).


  1. They’re accessible. Videos are as little as two minutes long, so busy caregivers can find time to view one or more, pausing and rewinding as many times as necessary. We’ve also taken into account that people learn in different ways, so in collaboration with the United Hospital Fund, we’re developing resource guides for each video topic that caregivers can reference online or print out.


  1. Nurses can use them as a teaching tool. We’ve met with leading nursing groups about how they can use these videos. In fact, this area may present the greatest opportunity for impact because it reaches those who work directly with the caregiver. We want the videos to serve as a model for replicating the environment in which family caregivers perform these tasks. The videos, in fact, can inform nurses of how caregivers best learn to do a given task. And, of course, they can recommend the videos to caregivers, allowing them to refer to the tools time and again.

  2. There’s no shortage of topics to cover. We plan to produce at least one more series in 2017, likely an expansion of our medical management videos — but they will address some additional topics, such as caregiver questions for a pharmacist when filling a prescription. There’s no shortage of issues to cover when it comes to giving caregivers the information they need, from nutrition and the use of specialized equipment such as nebulizers to feeding tubes and oxygen tanks. We look forward to providing this information in a way that resonates with family caregivers.

More Coming Soon

We’re expecting to release the wound care videos this summer. Meantime, you can view videos from the mobility series at

Susan Reinhard is a senior vice president at AARP, directing its Public Policy Institute, the focal point for AARP’s public policy research and analysis. She also serves as the chief strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America, a resource center to ensure the nation has the nurses it needs.



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New Home Alone Alliance Video Series Brings Together AARP and VA to Support Family Caregivers

New Home Alone Alliance Video Series Brings Together AARP and VA to Support Family Caregivers

In 2016, AARP launched the Home Alone Alliancesm in collaboration with the United Hospital Fund, the Family Caregiver Alliance, and the Betty Irene Davis School of Nursing at UC, Davis. The Home Alone Alliancesm is a collaborative that brings together partners from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to create solutions that support family caregivers. AARP partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), a Home Alone Alliancesm member, to release a video series instructing family caregivers how to perform mobility-related tasks.


While more than 9 million Veterans in the United States receive at least some of their health care through a VA facility, many more Veterans receive care from providers in the community. At VA, we know that millions of family caregivers have been caring for Veterans in their own homes since the founding of our nation.  We know that without those caregivers, many Veterans couldn’t remain close to family and their communities.  For Veterans, caregivers are a force multiplier: they support Veterans in ways that VA cannot, and they are essential to the health and well-being of Veterans.

Being the family caregiver of a wounded, ill, or injured Veteran is not easy work.  That’s why VA’s Caregiver Support Program provides training and education.  VA strives to support the caregiver’s role and to help caregivers understand the impact their work has on the health and well-being of the Veteran they care for and their families.  Family caregivers need to understand how what they do to support Veterans affects them, too.

Family caregivers are an integral part of the Veteran’s treatment team and are essential to the Veteran’s ability to have a positive quality of life.  VA offers a variety of local and national programs.  While these programs can empower caregivers to deliver care to their Veterans with confidence while acknowledging family caregivers’ own needs of self-care, VA knows that we can’t do it alone.

Courtesy of Greg Kahn

AARP Public Policy Institute and the National Alliance for Caregiving’s research in Caregiving in the United States, 2015 underscores the important role of family caregivers play to support our Veterans. In that report, we found that 14% of family caregiving recipients served in the Armed Forces. In addition, our research in the ground-breaking Home Alone report found family caregivers often perform complex medical/nursing tasks with very little guidance from health care professionals, leaving them feeling stressed and concerned about making a mistake. We also found that nearly half (43%) of family caregivers perform mobility tasks for their loved ones, and that 39% of family caregivers performing these tasks reported difficulty in doing so.

Mobility tasks are wide ranging and can include support with assistive devices (like canes and walkers) and help with transferring positions (such as from seated to standing). As most family caregivers know, helping with these types of tasks are more complicated than what is generally considered “help with walking,” especially when we are helping someone who is injured or who has multiple chronic conditions.

For that reason, we launched a video series that instruct family caregivers on how to perform complex medical/nursing tasks. Our videos are evidence-based and include input from both practicing clinicians and family caregivers. To meet the needs of family caregivers performing these tasks, including and especially caregivers of Veterans, AARP PPI partnered with clinicians and experts from VA to produce a video series focused on mobility tasks. The videos are publicly available and include the following topics:


  • Preparing Your Home for Safe Mobility
  • Getting From a Car to a Wheelchair
  • What to Do When Someone Falls
  • Using a Walker or Cane and Navigating Stairs
  • Moving from a Walker to Shower or Bed


Courtesy of Greg Kahn

All videos can be found on the Home Alone Alliancesm  website:

Each video is available in English and Spanish. In 2016, we released a pilot video series on medication management. This month, we are excited to release our next round of videos highlighting mobility tasks. Our videos are available free of charge as part of the Home Alone Alliancesm.


To learn more about the VA Caregiver Support Program, visit  or call the Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274.  You can also contact your local Caregiver Support Coordinator located at every VA medical center across the United States.

To learn more about the Home Alone Alliance, visit or contact

Susan Reinhard is a senior vice president at AARP, directing its Public Policy Institute, the focal point for AARP’s public policy research and analysis. She also serves as the chief strategist for the Center to Champion Nursing in America, a resource center to ensure the nation has the nurses it needs.




Meg Kabat is the National Director of the Caregiver Support Program at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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