Connecting Online with Family Caregivers

When you’re trying to reach a wide audience, it pays to be innovative. In the case of the County’s Aging & Independence Services (AIS), taking their popular caregiver seminars online has helped them reach a whole new audience.

AIS, part of the County’s Health and Human Services Agency, and the Caregiver Coalition of San Diego have been putting on seminars for family caregivers for more than a decade. Recently, they decided to also conduct the workshops online to reach people who work during the day.

“The caregiver workshops have evolved over time,” said Martin Dare, who coordinates the seminars for the AIS Family Caregiver Support Program. “We’ve been doing them in person for over ten years with great attendance of 60 to 100 people at each workshop.

“But we knew there were a lot of people that couldn’t make it to one because of work.”
They decided to use the County’s WebEx technology to hold similar workshops online during the lunch hour.

“The thought of using the webinar format has proven to be very successful,” said Dare. “It’s a great way to reach out to those who can’t make it to an in-person workshop because of work.”

So far the webinars have been attracting between 15 and 30 participants. The format is different than an in-person workshop, but covers the same types of topics. The traditional workshops feature four to six speakers and last for several hours. The online version has one presenter and lasts just 30 minutes.

“Participants have expressed a very high satisfaction level for the online workshops,” said Dare. “They feature some great question and answer sessions and they are all recorded so people can go online and see them anytime after they take place.”

Upcoming webinar topics include Parkinson’s Disease on March 2 with Charlotte King of the Parkinson’s Association of San Diego, and cardiac health on March 9 with Dr. Christopher Hunt from Home Physicians Medical Group.

The webinars are always at 12 noon and all you need to participate is internet access and an email address. To register, visit www.caregivercoalitionsd.org and click on ‘webinar registration’. That page also has all the previously recorded webinars on subjects such as brain health, essential legal documents, end of life issues and hospice, to name just a few.

Tom Christensen is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact