We are experiencing a true call to action from policymakers, health system leaders, funders, and the public to recognize and support the nearly 18 million family caregivers who toil daily to care for loved ones in their communities. As part of that call, I recently had the pleasure of presenting The John A. Hartford Foundation’s perspective on a webinar hosted by Grantmakers in Aging on family caregiving titled "New Horizons for Caring Across America."

Donna Benton, director of the Family Caregiver Support Center at the University of Southern California, and I discussed the recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, Families Caring for an Aging America, and how its findings and recommendations are important and relevant to our work. As a lead funder for the report itself, the Foundation is pleased that it has captured the attention of such a wide audience, and we fully agree with the report’s overarching take-away that the highest quality care must be family-centered, not just person-centered.

Family Caregiving is one of the Foundation’s three priority areas for grantmaking, and we are using the report to guide our efforts to improve the lives of family caregivers and those they love. One of the most exciting results of the report for us has been the ability to use it as a focal point to bring together a network of leaders interested in supporting the vital role caregivers play in a variety of ways across differing settings, geographic locations, and populations.

The webinar allowed me to highlight several ways that the Foundation is collaborating with other organizations to support health care programs, innovations, and advocacy efforts related to family caregiving.

I talked about a funders collaborative made up of private funders who are sharing information about family caregiving through regular phone calls and periodic in-person meetings. This is a group made up of foundations big and small, from national in scope to state- or regional-based organizations, and including those with a stated programmatic interest in family caregiving (for example, JAHF and the Archstone Foundation) to those who may be interested in related projects or are still considering whether and how to enter the field.

Other prospects available to funders and other groups interested in working together to lift efforts for family caregivers include:
 

  • A project to develop an Online Resource for Comparing Evidence-Based Dementia Caregiving Programs, under consideration by The John A. Hartford Foundation, the Archstone Foundation and The Retirement Research Foundation. This project will aim to provide health and social service organizations, independent service providers, government, and private sector funders with information to help decide which dementia caregiving programs are most appropriate to add to their existing service offerings or to financially support.
  • Ongoing work by the Dementia Caregiving Network to increase Family Caregiver Representation in Electronic Health Records to set a model for including family caregivers into electronic health records as a meaningful way of ensuring they are recognized and incorporated into their loved one’s health care.
  • AARP’s Public Policy Institute’s national scan of the CARE Act implementation. This scan of hospitals in selected states that have passed the CARE Act offers an opportunity to determine and spread best practices.
  • AARP’s Home Alone AllianceTM, bringing together key partners from public, private, and nonprofit sectors to change the way health care organizations and professionals interact with family caregivers. As designed, the AARP Public Policy Institute is positioning the Home Alone Alliance™ as a hub of research, outreach, convenings, and resource development.
  • The ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center, with support from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, houses the Lifespan Respite Technical Assistance Center, which supports research to document the benefits of respite to caregivers, families, and to society as a whole.

We at The John A. Hartford Foundation are committed to elevating the position of family caregivers within our health care system and are eager to work with others who share our dedication. We firmly believe that working together, we can magnify our successes in identifying, assessing, assisting, and—importantly—incorporating family caregivers who need our support. Join us!