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Changes come to caregiving amidst concerns over program

By Amy Qin     1/15/19 11:38pm

The Wellbeing Center is placing additional regulations on the caregiving program, according to an email obtained by the Thresher sent by Si Qi Tong, a campuswide caregiver. These changes come amidst contradictory reports from Rice Emergency Medical Services (REMS), the Wellbeing Center and the caregiving program over whether REMS withdrew their support of the program.

REMS Withdrawal?

REMS director Lisa Basgall notified campuswide caregivers Tong and Leah Ramkelawan that REMS was withdrawing from the caregiver program due to concerns with the caregiving program, according to an email sent out by Tong to head caregivers at each college in September. 

“Lisa from REMS has notified us about severe deficiencies in how we are training and recording the names of the caregivers for the year,” Tong said in the email, which was sent after a meeting of college head caregivers. “Essentially, there are informal trainings going on with names being added to the caregiver list outside of official trainings. This is unacceptable to us and to her. Because of this, she has voiced her concerns to Dean of Undergraduates Bridget Gorman and has withdrawn further REMS support at our trainings.”

Tong said REMS’ withdrawal means that caregiver trainings at residential colleges will no longer have a REMS member in attendance.

“The only difference between previous trainings and those for this semester is that currently, there will not be a REMS member present to help field any questions that students may have,” Tong, a Sid Richardson College junior, said in an email on Tuesday. “The trainings are still the same high quality as they have always been, and tailored for each college.”

However, Basgall said via email on Tuesday that REMS had never withdrawn from the program, citing scheduling issues for its lack of presence at caregiver trainings last semester.

“REMS has not withdrawn from the caregiving program,” Bascall said. “Occasionally in the last year or two when classes were scheduled on short notice, it was hard to find a REMS volunteer to attend the class. In fact, REMS is scheduled to attend classes scheduled for January.”

Agnes Ho, the director of the Wellbeing Center, who oversees the caregiving program, also said that REMS had not withdrawn from the program.

“REMS has not withdrawn from the caregiver program and it has never stopped working with caregivers at public parties,” Ho said. “We’ve implemented some changes for the future, including agreeing that REMS should get a two-week notice to plan the training sessions.” 

In an email Tuesday, Ramkelawan said that discussions for REMS to rejoin the caregiving program are currently underway.

“We are still in contact with [REMS], and it is very possible that they may join the program again,” Ramkelawan, a Duncan College senior, said.

Changes to Caregiving

Starting this year, all caregivers at events must be confirmed a week in advance, according to Tong’s September email. Furthermore, all caregiver trainings must be attended by Tong, Ramkelawan or a staff member from the Wellbeing Center. These new practices were developed in collaboration with the Wellbeing Center, which oversees the caregiving program, Tong said.

Emma Reford, a socials committee head at Baker College last year, said that the socials committee at Baker was careful to cross-check the names of officially trained caregivers with those who had signed up for events. However, she said there were issues with standardization and communication.

“In theory, the caregiving program is a great idea and helps to further a culture of care,” Reford, a junior, said. “However,  in practice at public parties, it is perhaps impractical to expect students, who are most likely only in it for the service hours, to be expected to have that much responsibility.” 

Reford suggested the familiar nature of the caregiving program renders it more suitable for college events than public parties.

“The caregiving program might be more applicable to smaller college events, like college Beer Bike events or Spirit Fridays (Fridays in the Quad) because this is a more intimate environment with fewer people, lower risk and stronger relationships between those present,” Reford said.

Ashton Duke, a former head caregiver at Baker, said he is hosting an informal caregiver training at Duncan this Thursday to address what he considered deficiencies in the program, particularly its prioritization of certifying a large number of caregivers over teaching people how to give care.

“Event registration shouldn’t be the only reason people go through the training,” Duke, a Duncan College senior, said. “Anyone should be able to give care if they know how to give care, regardless of an official status.” 

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