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Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2011

Enhancing the Quality of Life for Caregivers

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Starting in July, the Exceptional Family Member Program is standardizing and streamlining the process for delivering respite care to eligible Families in need of support.

The EFMP is a mandatory enrollment program that works with other military and civilian agencies to provide comprehensive, coordinated community support, housing, educational, medical and personnel services to Families with special needs. It is focused on helping these Families find the support and care needed to ensure all their members can thrive.

Respite care is one way EFMP helps to provide support for all Family members — in this case, the caregivers. Caring for a Family member with special needs, especially severe chronic medical conditions, is an around-the-clock job. There may be no end to a caregiver’s love, but everyone who shoulders such responsibilities needs a break to rest and recharge. EFMP respite care provides that break. Qualifying Families are eligible for up to 40 hours of respite care a month for each certified Family member.

In an effort to enhance service delivery to EFMP-enrolled Families, IMCOM has revised EFMP respite care policies and procedures. The revision is effective this month. It includes changes in eligibility criteria and the Family Services Needs Matrix, and online training for EFMP managers and physicians. An EFMP respite care panel will be established at each garrison to review and recommend approval or disapproval of all respite care submissions to the garrison commander, who is the decision authority.

Garrison EFMP managers are available to provide more detailed information to Families receiving respite care. Soldiers or Family members who have questions about it or other EFMP-related services can also visit the EFMP web page at Army OneSource (www.myarmyonesource.com).

This revision to policy and procedures is part of the Army EFMP Strategic Action Plan to improve services and support for Families with special needs. Also as part of the strategic action plan, at the beginning of this fiscal year EFMP added 43 systems navigators, or non-clinical case managers, at 26 garrisons stateside and overseas to connect Families with required systems of care.

The focus on enhancing the effectiveness of EFMP could not be more important or timely. Important, because the EFMP is one way the Army keeps key promises it made in the Army Family Covenant: providing access to high-quality medical care, educational opportunities and Family programs that foster an environment in which Families can thrive.

Timely, because while the Army’s commitment remains as strong as when the covenant was signed in 2007, we are operating in a different fiscal reality in 2011. Just as any Soldier or Family member asks “Is it worth it?” before opening their wallet, we are doing the same, making sure we are using resources as efficiently as possible to provide quality services to Families. Army life poses challenges for any Family, but especially for Families with special needs. It is part of our job, our commitment, to make sure we are delivering the right services in the right way to support the health and well-being of all Family members.

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