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Willis Jacobson, Staff

Maribel Landeros, a health advocate for Spanish-speaking North County residents, speaks at Thursday morning’s Caring Together Lompoc campaign kickoff at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center.
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Willis Jacobson, Staff

Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl shares a personal story about his own experience as a caregiver for his father at Thursday morning’s Caring Together Lompoc campaign kickoff at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center.
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Willis Jacobson, Staff

Dr. Naishadh Buch, the chief operations officer for Lompoc Valley Medical Center, speaks at Thursday morning’s Caring Together Lompoc campaign kickoff at the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center.

 

Representatives from several local agencies converged on the Dick DeWees Community and Senior Center on Thursday morning to officially launch a new campaign aimed at providing support to Lompoc-area residents who are receiving and/or offering caregiver services.

About 50 community members gathered in the DeWees Center ballroom for the kickoff of the Caring Together Lompoc campaign, which was designed to aid local caregivers, as well as the people — primarily senior citizens — for whom they are caring.

“Together our county is rising to the challenge of creating our future together,” said Phylene Wiggins, a director of investments with the Santa Barbara Foundation, which is helping fund the campaign. “Lompoc has defined its needs, charted its course and is really shining the light of truth on those that are the safety net for our elders.

“Here’s the real truth: The safety net is us,” she added. “We are the caregivers. We are the safety net hiding in plain sight.”

The campaign is the result of an in-depth assessment study that was used to help identify the areas in which support is needed.

Ashley Costa, the executive director of the Lompoc Valley Community Healthcare Organization, which is the lead agency among many that have combined for Caring Together Lompoc, shared some of the results of that study during Thursday’s launch event.

Among the findings was that about 5,000 people, or about 16 percent of the total population, in Lompoc are caregivers. The people in that group are an average of 68 years old and average about 66 hours of caring per week, the study found.

Despite those findings, the study also concluded that a “significant subgroup of respondents did not self-identify as a caregiver.”

Costa said there were a number of reasons for that low level of self-identification, which has resulted in services being underutilized.

“Things like shame, pride, guilt and some generational and cultural differences in status all impeded self identification,” she said, adding that the study also found that stress levels for caregivers were high, at about 6.3 on a 10-point scale.

“If I don’t see myself as a caregiver, I’m not going to access this service,” she added.

As a result of the study, and as part of the Caring Together Lompoc effort, a Family Caregiver Support Network is currently in development by the Lompoc Valley Medical Center in collaboration with other community partners.

The center, which is expected to take shape in August, will serve as a centralized hub for caregiver training, referrals and case management.

Dr. Naishadh Buch, the chief operations officer of LVMC, said at Thursday’s gathering that the hospital is fully behind the effort.

“None of these things are free; everything costs money,” he said. “With that recognition, the Lompoc Valley Medical Center has made the commitment that that won’t be an issue. Funding? Great. No funding? Well, that’s fine, too. This is a service that we need to provide to our citizens, so we will do that. We are extremely excited to be a part of this collaboration.”

That hub will also focus on the health of the caregiver, which can often be overlooked, according to the Caring Together Lompoc assessment study.

“We need to recognize when the caregiver needs medical help, as well,” Costa said.

Other speakers at Thursday’s event included Joyce Ellen Lippman, the executive director of the Central Coast Commission for Senior Citizens-Area Agency on Aging, and Maribel Landeros, a health advocate with the Santa Barbara County Promotores Network. Landeros’ focus is on bringing aid and services to the local Spanish-speaking community.

Lompoc Mayor Bob Lingl also spoke and shared personal stories about his own experience as a caregiver for his parents and in-laws.

Lingl appeared close to crying as he described sitting in his home and holding his father’s hand as his father died.

“Even when situations and relationships make it complicated, and we may be at our most vulnerable, everyone in our community should have the support needed and the experience of enjoying love and support from their family,” he said after thanking the campaign organizers for their efforts. “I am proud of this community. They rally around the well-being of our caregivers and our seniors.”

For more on the Caring Together Lompoc campaign, visit www.CaringTogetherLompoc.org.

 

https://santamariatimes.com/community-kicks-off-caring-together-lompoc-campaign/article_1c493a2c-8c74-5491-b0c4-37aab35d7faa.html#utm_source=santamariatimes.com&utm_campaign=%2Femail-updates%2Fdaily-headlines%2F&utm_medium=email&utm_content=B6AE24A294F20210CEE68B71D8FA25B86344DC3E

 

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