Caregiver Program Celebrates Five-Year Anniversary
On Friday, November 2, the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program celebrated its five-year anniversary, recognizing the enormous strides the program has made, impacting hundreds of families and the brain tumor community at large.
The UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program prepares and supports family members along the trajectory of illness, from diagnosis through treatment milestones and bereavement. “It’s well documented that caregivers have needs as well, but we’re the first group that has actually built this service into the patient care,” said Margaretta Page, RN, Nurse Coordinator for the caregiver program.
The UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program is named in honor of Gordon Murray, who was treated at UCSF for brain cancer. Grateful for the expert care Mr. Murray received at UCSF, his wife Randi Murray spearheaded the fundraising campaign that led to the program’s launch in 2013.
“I’ve met a lot of the people who have now benefitted from the program and when I hear people’s stories it just takes me right back to ground zero,” said Randi Murray. “To me, I felt like I had this opportunity and a platform to do something for people who were going through this horrible experience and I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”
While the Caregiver Program aims to support the unique needs of caregivers throughout the brain tumor experience, it also represents an important shift in the dynamic between the clinic and the family.
Susan Chang, MD, UCSF neuro-oncologist and Director of the UCSF Neuro-Oncology Gordon Murray Caregiver Program, and Page have begun traveling as far as Australia and Sweden to talk about the program and raise awareness about how important it is to involve the caregiver in the care team. “This needs to be a partnership,” said Chang.
“How do we make this a patient-and family-centered approach to care? It’s been very exciting to be able to reach that and have a real impact on families,” said Chang.
Already, other institutions like Marin General Hospital are implementing parts of the Caregiver Program in their clinic. University of Pennsylvania and University of Alabama are also using UCSF's program as a model to activate caregiver programs of their own.
Chang also cited potential benefit of such programs beyond the brain tumor community, most notably, for chronic conditions like Alzheimer’s in which many caregiving responsibilities fall to the loved one's family.
Looking forward to the next five years, Chang describes the team’s vision: “To continue to do the great work that we do here, meeting the needs of the patients and families, but also making this the model, making this the norm – so that people realize, how can we not do this?”