Building Better Caregivers

Classes are highly participatory, where mutual support and success build the participants’ confidence in their ability to manage their caregiving tasks and maintain a fulfilling life.

​The Building Better Caregivers program was originally a internet-based program, developed and pilot tested within the United States Department of Veteran Affairs in California, Southern Nevada, and Hawaii for family members and informal caregivers who take care of veterans or are veterans with tramatic brain injury (TBI), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, or diagnosed memory impairment. 

The community-based program is based on the internet model. It was tested in a successful, 1-year longitudinal study at sites in California and Ohio.  The study ended in 2017.

A Spanish translation of this program will be available soon, Convertirse en Mejores Cuidadores.


  • Small group workshop
  • 2 1/2 hours per session
  • 1 session per week for 6 weeks


  • Community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals.
  • Special attention should be given to making the location accessible to all.
  • A room large enough for all participants to gather comfortably, plus space for 2 leaders and their materials.


  • People who are family caregivers of people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), dementia such as Alzheimer’s, and any other conditions that affect memory.  


  • Building Better Caregivers is the companion book for this program


  • Two trained leaders, one or both of whom are peers who are or have been family caregivers.

Subjects Taught

(Note: Participants make weekly action plans, share experiences, and help each other solve problems they encounter in creating and carrying out their self-management program.)

  • Caregiver stress
  • Dealing with difficult care partner behaviors
  • Getting help
  • Making decisions about treatment, housing, etc.
  • Communicating effectively with family, friends, and health professionals
  • Dealing with caregiver and care partner difficult emotions
  • Planning for future needs
  • Legal issues related to caregiving

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the Program replace existing programs and treatments?

The program will not conflict with existing programs or treatment.  It is designed to enhance caregiving skill for family caregivers.

How was the Program developed and evaluated?

Building Better Caregivers was originally designed as an online program for the U.S. Veterans Administration.  Recently we have adapted the on-line program for use in face-to-face groups.  It has undergone a one year longitudinal study in 4 sites in California and in Ohio.  The program was found to lower caregiver stress and depression, as well as care partner’s health care utilization. The developers of the program include Kate Lorig, Diana Laurent, Katy Plant, and  health professionals from the VA system.

How can my facility offer the Program?

Web-based cross-training will be available through SMRC for those already trained in the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP).  Because the program shares many of the basic techniques with the CDSMP, those new to our self-management programs must take in-person training for the CDSMP before being cross-trained in the BBC program.  Training locations, dates and application can be found in the "Training" section of this website.

Outcome data for internet study reported in:

Lorig K, Thompson-Gallagher D, Traylor L, Ritter PL, Laurent DL, Plant K, Thompson LW, Hahn TJ. Building Better Caregivers: A pilot online support workshop for family caregivers of cognitively impaired adults. J Applied Gerontol June 2012;31(3):423-437. View abstract