When people say “Happy New Year,” it conjures up many different visions for each of us—good health, the love of family and friends, and a sense that the year will bring positive momentum in all the areas we care about most.
Here at The John A. Hartford Foundation, those visons ring true. We have never felt more positive about our work and all that we can and will do to advance the quality of care for older adults.
With that, here are the Foundation’s top 10 New Year’s resolutions, based on the exciting grant projects and activities we support. Given the tremendous talent and dedication of our grantee and foundation partners, we are confident these resolutions will not only come to pass, but will exceed our expectations. We hope you will join us in adding these resolutions to your own, so that all older adults can receive the high-quality, person- and family-centered care they deserve.
1) We resolve to accelerate the transformation of health care systems so that they become Age-Friendly.
At the end of 2016, we announced a $3.19 million grant to launch our Age-Friendly Health Systems Initiative, our signature program within our Age-Friendly Health Systems priority area. This expansive new effort includes several other important grant projects started in 2016 and earlier. Creating Age-Friendly Health Systems means simultaneously addressing our other two priority areas: Family Caregiving and Serious Illness & End of Life. We know this work will significantly move the needle in improving the quality of care for older individuals.
2) We resolve to improve care for people with serious illness or at the end of life through deeper collaboration and coordinated action.
A new collaborative, bringing together a “dream team” of innovators to work together cooperatively to accelerate and expand better end-of-life and serious illness care, is underway. We are fostering cooperation among our colleague funders who are also interested in this topic. This includes, for example, a partnership with the California Health Care Foundation and the Cambia Health Foundation, with whom we supported a national survey on advanced care planning.
3) We resolve to consistently and vigorously raise up family caregivers of older adults as linchpins of good care who need recognition and support in our health care system.
We will continue to celebrate the heroic and often unsung family caregivers every day. In March 2016, we secured a display window in Rockefeller Center here in New York City to draw the public’s attention to this critical issue. We are especially pleased that, across the nation, the CARE Act has gained strong momentum. Most significantly, the release of the Families Caring for an Aging America report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) in September 2016 provides evidence-based recommendations for transformational change. We, along with many other partners , will work hard to put those recommendations into action.
4) We resolve to increase the momentum that we already see in reframing aging so that the public better understands and supports policies and programs that improve care for older adults.
Through a grant to Kaiser Health News, 2017 promises to be the best year yet in high-quality journalism covering aging and health in substantive but understandable ways. The Reframing Aging communications project continues to generate buzz and new communication tools will soon be ready to help us all talk about aging issues in ways that overcome the scourge of ageism and capture the dynamic potential of our older population.
5) We resolve to spread the best approaches to improving care for the most vulnerable older adults who live with complex medical and social needs.
We look forward to continuing our collaboration with four other foundations (The Commonwealth Fund, the Peterson Center on Healthcare, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and The SCAN Foundation) who all share a common goal of improving care for populations with complex conditions. For frail, homebound older adults, we can expect more groundbreaking work from our grantees focused on home-based primary care as one highly promising approach.
6) We resolve to infuse geriatrics expertise throughout the health care system.
Whether it’s disseminating a model of geriatrics co-management of hip fracture patients, embedding geriatric team training into schools of nursing, or helping Area Agencies on Aging and other community-based organizations better partner in health care delivery, we believe 2017 is ripe for aging expertise to move to a higher level of influence in health care.
7) We resolve to develop a scalable model that utilizes our health care system to address elder mistreatment.
Through a grant to the Education Development Center, we are bringing together leading national experts in four states across the country to develop, test, and evaluate a prototype model of intervention for victims of elder mistreatment seen in hospitals and other settings. Clearly, no health system can truly be considered “age-friendly” if elder mistreatment goes unchecked.
8) We resolve to raise awareness and create action on issues that dramatically affect older adults, but receive little attention.
Our grant to the Center for Medicare Advocacy is helping consumers and providers understand the little-known implications of being classified under Medicare’s Observation Status in the hospital. And our grant to the Santa Fe Group is bringing to light the often overlooked importance of oral health to overall health. Through other activities in 2017, we will continue to provide leadership in all aspects of aging and health, while pushing forward dramatic change in our three central priority areas of Age-Friendly Health Systems, Family Caregiving, and Serious Illness & End of Life.
9) We resolve to continue ardently supporting each of our 2016 grantees so that each of their projects is successful.
Our grantees inspire us with their commitment and creativity. We will do whatever we can to support their efforts to ensure that older adults receive the quality of care they need and deserve.
10) Finally, and key to our success, we resolve to identify a new set of outstanding grant projects and organizations to fund in 2017 that will join the growing movement to improve care for older adults!