School of Care at Crystal Ridge Care Center in Grass Valley |

School of Care at Crystal Ridge Care Center in Grass Valley

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

Over the next 10 years, Nevada County is facing a change of epic proportions.

By the year 2020, 71 percent of residents is projected to be age 60 or older, reports the Area 4 Agency on Aging. While this looming “silver tsunami” presents a whole host of questions regarding the county’s future, among the most significant, say area social workers, is “Who will care for us?”

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, two Nevada County women have teamed up to put forth a program with three complementary goals: provide high quality, affordable care and a support network for the aging population and their families; establish a place where the members of the community can turn for human resources, education and assistance in a time of need; and create a much-needed workforce of highly trained caregivers.

“How do we serve this population? How do we increase the standard of care?” asked Una Kobrin, a marriage and family therapist. “Caregiving is an overburdened, under-trained profession. Given the demographics, it will soon be one of the top job providers.”

“We’re a hand-holding organization — both figuratively and literally — when people need a human being who cares.”
— Rev. Christine Morgan

Kobrin, who is founder of the nonprofit jobs-creation organization, WHEEL (Work Healing the Environment, the Economy and our Lives), has joined forces with interfaith minister the Rev. Christine Morgan, a retired hospice chaplain, to create School of Care.

With WHEEL acting as initiator, the center is a one-stop educational and resource center with the mission of increasing the quality of care in Nevada County.

“When people suddenly find themselves caring for a family member, we want to provide a sanctuary — it’s very hard to wade through resources, particularly when you’re in trauma,” said Kobrin. “At the School of Care, we want to simplify things for you and help explore the resources that are out there. We will help you navigate the system and act as a matchmaker based on your needs. We want to be sure to utilize the breadth of care that is available.”

There is a disproportionately high number of “healers” in Nevada County ­— both traditional and alternative — added Kobrin, such as massage therapists, naturopaths, doctors of Oriental medicine, teachers of Ayurveda and more. But the School of Care will also be able to help identify what’s out there in terms of legal counsel, financial advice, case workers, Medicare options, respite care, nutrition and others. The aim is to optimize community efforts and offer classes — all under one roof.

“Caregiving can be overwhelming,” said Morgan. “For example, how do you touch an elderly person? How do you talk to a loved one with Alzheimer’s? Where do you go for advice on having a ceremony for a loved one who is dying? We want to offer a broad range of classes, including Red Cross and CNA certification. We’re a hand-holding organization — both figuratively and literally — when people need a human being who cares.”

While Kobrin and Morgan have created a “soft launch” of School of Care at Crystal Ridge Care Center in Grass Valley, by spring of 2013, they hope to have more workshops in place — and a building of their own, said Kobrin, who hopes a donor will reach out.

Roughly 15 community members are needed to “birth” the full vision for School of Care, added Kobrin. The public is encouraged to attend monthly general meetings, which examine funding, the business plan, outreach, curriculum and more. The next meeting will be at noon Oct. 18 at Sierra Presbyterian Church in Nevada City.

“With all these amazing resources out there, we don’t think they need to be in competition,” said Morgan. “We never say, ‘instead of.’ We say ‘in addition to.’ We want to see where each fits into the puzzle efficiently. We want to create a different environment for care in Nevada County. We want people to know they’re not stuck — we have ideas.”

To contact Staff Writer Cory Fisher, email or call (530) 477-4203.

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