VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Family Training Program
The WBRC provides a Family Training Program (FTP), if prescribed by the rehabilitation team, to a close family member or caregiver. The purpose of this program is to educate the participant on the implications of sight loss. The family member engages in direct and individual interactions with members of the patient's treatment team. The objectives of the program are to demonstrate the new capabilities gained and to provide education on specific supportive techniques.
Shortly after the patient's arrival, the WBRC Social Worker meets with the patient to discuss how sight loss has affected them and their home/family life. If the treatment team makes a recommendation for FTP, and the patient and family member indicate interest and availability, arrangements are made to include meals and lodging provided by the WBRC, and in some cases travel expenses. If the family member or caregiver is not available to participate in on-site FTP, a conference call with the treatment team may be offered instead.
After the family member arrives, they are oriented to the WBRC and given their FTP schedule. During FTP the participant receives information and instructions about living and working with a visually impaired person in different skill areas. They participate in discussions with various staff members and patients. Some of the experiences will include: sighted guide training, learning about current technology on blindness and visual impairment, and use of blindfold or goggles to simulate the patient's visual condition. The family member will observe the patient during mobility instruction. They will also have a chance to observe and use various techniques and prosthetics that aid visually impaired individuals in activities of daily living, e.g., reading, writing, cooking, and working on craft projects.
The FTP offers an excellent environment for the family member to ask questions and raise concerns with the individual rehabilitation specialists. In addition to sessions with the various instructors, the family member will typically meet with Nursing, Social Work, Psychology, and Recreation Therapy. The patient and family member are reminded that sight loss is a shared disability and that rehabilitation continues long after training at the WBRC is completed.
A Veteran receives his certificate of completion at a WBRC graduation ceremony.