Mar 16, 2021

Mindful Caregiving Trainees share their top learnings

The end of February marked a significant milestone for Zen Caregiving Project (ZCP) and a team of four Facilitators-in-Training from Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (ZSFG). The four facilitators finished their 11-hour training on our Mindful Family Caregiving course as part of a pilot Train-the-Trainer program with ZSFG. The trainees came from a range of backgrounds, including hospital chaplaincy, clinical social work, and healthcare consultancy, and all brought enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and touching compassion to the training. 

training cohort
ZCPs instructors (top row) in their final teaching session with the trainees

The Train-the-Trainer program is designed to introduce a sustainable family caregiver support program into healthcare systems. It involves training a cohort of staff members in facilitation skills and providing them with a comprehensive set of materials including lesson plans, hand-outs, and videos, to support them in the delivery of six Mindful Family Caregiving modules. (Read more about the program here.)

 Having completed the training, we asked the facilitators three questions about their training experiences, and here is what they shared:

1. What is the most important thing you have learned from the training so far?

For some facilitators the most important thing they learned was about  family caregivers:

“ I have learned about the deep love and compassion the caregiver has for the person they are caring for, and that they desire to put aside themselves for the needs of their loved ones.”

Others spoke of learning how mindfulness can be useful for caregivers in their caregiving role. While others shared that for them, it was the mindfulness practices they had learned that were most important including giving themselves the permission to pause when feeling overwhelmed, and dropping the pressure to respond to people’s emails, demands and text messages.

2. What is the most surprising thing you have learned from the training so far?

For two of the trainees it was the simplicity of mindfulness that was most surprising, and that such a simple technique could be so helpful in navigating the challenges that we all face.  

“I didn’t think I would grasp the concept of meditation because I always thought it was too abstract, but I finally found understanding for its purpose and the difference it can make in getting through the grind of daily living.”

For another, it was the way in which mindfulness can help caregivers with their challenges:

“This training has taught me the importance of the caregiver taking the time to sit with themselves and notice what is happening with their physical and emotional self. This is how they can build resiliency.”

And for another it was how needed mindfulness was, having learned that the average human’s attention span is 8 seconds (and decreasing!)

3. Are you already using anything you learned in your daily life?

All of the facilitators were using mindfulness activities in their lives having completed the training. Some were using it as a way to reduce stress and anxiety: 

“Daily check-ins and mindfulness are something that I practice regularly to make sure that I maintain a balance between work and self-care so I don’t become overwhelmed by stress.”

Others were using Mindfulness exercises that related to loss, helping them see how certain losses continue to emotionally impact us long after they have happened.

Another trainee shared how, as taught in the Mindful Family Caregiving course, they were using daily activities as a chance to practice mindfulness: 

“I am trying to remember to practice mindfulness as I experience my day. Being mindful with activities I engage in; bathing, eating, brushing my teeth, walking …”

Next steps

Now that the facilitators have completed their 11-hours of training they will observe ZCP instructors teaching the Mindful Family Caregiving course online to family caregivers of patients at ZSFG. The facilitators will then have the opportunity to deliver their first Mindful Family Caregiving course in June 2021.

We want to thank the facilitators for their dedication to the training, their enthusiasm for the project and their compassion towards others in the role of family caregiver. 

For further information on the Train-the-Trainer program please contact

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