A Community of Practice: Santa Barbara

CareMapping Santa Barbara county

On April 3rd the first of a series of CareMap workshops commenced in Santa Barbara. The initial workshops were hosted by Family Services Agency (FSA) and supported by the Santa Barbara Foundation. In attendance were social workers, therapists, consumers, and FSA board members – all of them in one way or another were caregivers and receivers.

Without having had the full experience of drawing and reflecting upon their own CareMap yet, people were initially a bit weary, even disbelieving of the impact a CareMap might have on people’s caregiving activities.

After drawing and reflecting on their drawings, however, every single person seemed struck by the value of the exercise and many were surprised by what their drawings revealed about their family dynamics or current situation.

One woman came in thinking she was going to draw a CareMap around her mother, but as she drew the CareMap she realized that she had also been taking care of her husband with cancer. Another woman saw clearly how she cared for many but had little self-care. And another realized how precarious her family’s current situation truly was, where should one of her parents’ decline in health she would need to make some serious life changes.

The impact of caregiving fades into the background for most people. The CareMap helps to illuminate the reality of caregiving in a way that honors each family’s special dynamic, values, beliefs, traditions, and culture. Separating caregiving as a complete activity to be considered is made more difficult because caregiving activities tend to be fragmented, spread throughout the day and weeks. As an example, see the data collected from Atlas’ pilot last year.

Below are some of the voices from the community during CareMap Workshops:

The map helped identify the caregiving that will be needed

  • “The map clarified the dichotomy for where caregiving exists and where help will be needed once this becomes an active caregiving situation.”

Reflections on the CareMaps brought lots of emotion into the room.  The CareMaps developed a space for people to share their stories and receive empathy from listeners.

  • “The drawing conveys what you’re feeling and could also capture perspectives from other people”

People’s CareMap delivered sobering moments.

  • “I see now that I drew my map the way I wanted my relationship to look, not how it really is.”

Using the CareMap as a base visualization to see where things need to changed or planned for.

  • “Looking at this makes me understand how precariously balanced my family structure is right now. Should anything change it would throw my life into disarray.”

People saw that the CareMap includes self-care.

  • “I realized doing this drawing that there’s not a lot of support towards me”

Below are reflections from the day after the CareMap Workshops from some of those who participated:

Seeing the grand plan.

  • “I realized that my dad had a whole plan: he made sure we’re all supported and have a home nearby. He really considered his aging process. There isn’t one specific person who will be caregiving.”
  • “Drawing the map made me consider the importance of geography and the importance of having a plan.”

Recognizing more fully the positives and negatives of one’s situation.

  • “Seeing others’ maps made me feel fortunate.”
  • “I thought that I was a caregiving to my in-laws but it turns out I’m not. And so now I want to change that.”
  • “I had an awakening to how much support I have been given. There’s lots of letters I need to write.”
  • “The CareMap lifted me up completely and it took courage to see I’m not as alone as I thought. When you write it down and commit yourself to accepting that person as a caregiver. That’s the power. That acknowledgement is where change happens.”

Reframing the issues so that one is empowered to change things.

  • “The map gives you a basic picture and so reframes the issues so that you can change the things you need to change.”
  • “I shared my map with my sister and it was the first time we’ve agreed on the deficit in our family’s caregiving arrangement.”
  • “The map makes you feel. You bring it into your body in a way that’s different than just talking about it.”
  • “The physical act of crafting your story creates space between you and your story so that you can share and reflect your story.”
  • “The empathy from the listeners was palpable.”