DHA’s E Caregiver Directory Puts Resources at Your Fingertips
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The Defense Health Agency’s new electronic Caregiver Resource Directory provides more than 2,000 resources for caregivers of wounded warriors within three taps on their mobile phone, their computer, or tablet.
“It gives you the flexibility that whenever you need to find that information, whatever you’re looking for, it’s right there at your fingertips,” said Jamela Davis, a caregiver for her husband, who was in the US Army.
For the more than 300,000 caregivers of wounded warriors and veterans, the eCRD “is phenomenal,” Davis added. “People sometimes get a little scared of having to navigate on their phone, but it’s just so easy. That makes it a good tool to have.”
When you open up the eCRD, you can easily see a table of contents and find the category you are looking for. From there, you can see the list of resources that are available.
The eCRD is an electronic platform based on the National Resource Directory. The NRD is a database of validated resources that supports recovery, rehabilitation, and reintegration for service members, veterans, family members, and caregivers. It is a joint operation of the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Labor.
In May 2022, phase one of the eCRD rolled out.
“When we update the NRD with new resources, they can be immediately added to the eCRD with just a check box,” said Jonathan Morris, with DHA’s Warrior Care Recovery Care Programs Operations, highlighting just one of its user-friendly features.
Other innovations in the eCRD include:
- Simple searchability through navigations and links
- No heavy scrolling
- Single page content printing
- Hyperlinks to each resource
“The old version was a PDF and required people to scroll up and down. If they wanted to pull a specific page, they needed to download the complete directory,” Morris pointed out.
A hard copy of the Caregiver Resource Directory was launched in 2015, updated yearly, and has had more than 300,000 free copies distributed, he said.
Taking the Weight Off Relocation
There are many services and resources available to caregivers and their families if they have to relocate, so that the hand-off can go as smoothly as possible.
“There are direct links to each of the military service relocation programs that are highlighted by location,” Morris said.
He added that the NRD and the eCRD connect relocating caregivers and families to “services and agencies to help them settle in and give them access to virtual support through organizations such as the American Red Cross Military and Veterans Caregiver Network.”
“They can also reach out to the NRD by email at infoNRD.firstname.lastname@example.org, and the content team will assist with finding resources” down to local community churches, Morris explained.
Self-Care and Crisis Care
Caregiving can be a 24/7/365 responsibility, and caregivers need to take care of themselves to be able to continue their roles without burning out.
For Davis, “I’m always looking at ways for rest and relaxation; this helps protect my caregiver mental health and well-being.”
She’s also used the Veteran Spouse Network and has participated in caregiver retreats at an equestrian therapy ranch, which has programs for wounded warriors and their families. She said these programs add to her “toolkit” of self-care.
Additionally, crises can arise, and caregivers may have an immediate need for resources. “Some caregivers need that information right now,” Davis said.
For other caregivers, challenges could be “everything from mental health, to employment, to education,” Davis said, adding: “Caregivers need so much, and they just never know what kind of a situation they’ll be in.”
The top five resources that are searched for on the eCRD and NRD this year are:
- Access to health care for caregivers
- Guides to community resources
- Caregiver resources for family members with traumatic brain injury
- VA specialty resources for caregivers
- Mental health support services for children of caregivers