At the center of the new Stanford Hospital lies an oasis, a floor dedicated to providing support and comfort to the unsung heroes of healing—families and caregivers.
Located on the third floor, the caregiver center, health library, interfaith chapel and roof garden combine to create a place for people to pause and reflect, to take a break from the clinical setting of the inpatient rooms above and the demands of the outside world beyond the hospital entrance.
“Caregivers are essential to the patient and family experience,” said Alpa Vyas, Vice President, Patient Experience. “The third floor creates this welcoming respite for families and caregivers and for our staff.”
Overwhelmingly, research has shown that caregivers are at high risk for burnout and health issues, as they juggle careers, families and home with the responsibility of caring for a sick or injured relative. Nearly half of all family caregivers say they are “somewhat stressed” and more than a third are “highly stressed,” according to a 2015 Caregiving Report sponsored by the AARP.
“National trends and research informed our strategic decision to invest in a dedicated caregiver area,” said Vyas.
As the centerpiece of the third floor, the Lynne and Roy M. Frank Family Resource Center, home of the Caregiver Center and the Stanford Health Library, provides compassionate support to caregivers and connects them with resources for wherever they are in their care journey. The Center will be open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 7pm. Through one-on-one conversations with families and caregivers, program managers and care coaches can develop care plans and coordinate supportive services for every unique situation, from an imminent discharge to a lengthy hospital stay.
“The goal is to meet caregivers where they are in their journey,” said Rachelle Mirkin, MPH, Director, Health Education, Engagement and Promotion Programs. The space is staffed by a team of care coaches, program managers, patient care navigators and health librarians who is cross-trained and collaborative, and works to help connect families and caregivers with other inpatient services, such as spiritual care and social work, and community resources. “We are really trying to create warm handoffs so that individuals don’t feel like they have to keep retelling their story,” said Mirkin.
The expansive third floor is also home to the newest branch of the Stanford Health Library, which includes a special collection on caregiving and family health, said its Director Nora Cain. Health librarians provide personal assistance in researching questions about medical issues and help visitors access Stanford’s vast digital resources. The space is outfitted with magazines, puzzles and art supplies, and includes modular furniture that can be reconfigured for small group discussions and classroom formats. “It’s a really large, beautiful space with lots of room to sit and read and have quiet conversations,” said Cain.
Visitors can also sit outside on the patio or walk through the expansive gardens to find a private area to decompress. A circular rotunda at the entrance of the third floor, and the adjacent interfaith chapel and garden provide additional quiet spaces for reflection and contemplation.
“I believe we are the first hospital in northern California to have a dedicated space for caregivers,” said Vyas. “We created an environment that’s supportive, that helps caregivers reduce the risk of burnout and health complications. We just wanted to give people space to breathe.”