Time for Change
AGEnts is Now

At its core, the new Hartford Change AGEnts Initiative is about collaboration. The Hartford Foundation partnered with a trusted colleague, the Gerontological Society of America (GSA), to manage the initiative, which seeks to harness the collective strengths and expertise of Hartford-affiliated grantees, scholars, and other health system leaders to drive improvements in the health and care of older adults, their families, and communities.

“This initiative will stimulate different kinds of important partnerships that seek to impact change in practice and policy as it concerns older adults and their families,” says Dr. Gitlin, director of the Center for Innovative Care in Aging at the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, a GSA Fellow, and member of the Change AGEnts Initiative leadership team, with Nancy A. Whitelaw, PhD, a long-time leader in the field and a former GSA president.

Fact: Almost 400 grantees and scholars attended the Change AGEnts launch event in November 2013.

“It will be fascinating to see how these kinds of partnerships evolve over time,” Gitlin says. “I think collaboration is at the crux of this initiative, in that Change AGEnts is bringing together people with different expertise, professional knowledge, and skills to help advance change in a whole variety of healthcare settings.”

During the past three decades, the Hartford Foundation has supported a dynamic group of researchers in geriatric medicine, nursing, and social work. The Change AGEnts Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort to leverage this powerful network—more than 3,000 scholars and health systems leaders in all—to help them learn from and support one another, and work directly on changes in practice and service delivery.

“The Change AGEnts approach is absolutely inspired,” says Mr. Appleby, executive director and CEO of GSA.

The Change AGEnts Initiative hosted a launch event in November 2013 at the GSA annual meeting in New Orleans. GSA is managing the Initiative, guided by a leadership team consisting of the Hartford Foundation; representatives from GSA; SCP, a socially responsible communications consulting firm and longtime Hartford grantee; and Drs. Whitelaw and Gitlin, who are national experts in interdisciplinary practice change.

One of the driving goals of the initiative is to bring people together in new partnerships and new ways of collaborating. That’s one clear outcome that we would like to see sooner than later, that this initiative has facilitated new partnerships/collaborations among the previously separately funded disciplines.” Laura N. Gitlin, PhD
Member, Leadership Team
Hartford Change AGEnts

The Initiative has two main components. First, the Change AGEnts Community provides Hartford scholars, fellows, mentors, advisors, and grantees with online networking opportunities, support, and training to help mobilize them to action. Second, the Change AGEnts Networks—small, interdisciplinary groups—focus on top health care concerns. The two initial Networks will focus on caregiving for persons with dementia and on patient-centered medical homes.

Through conferences, grants, webinars, the ChangeAGEnts365.org website, and the practice and policy-focused Change AGEnts Networks, the project will foster a range of new and exciting partnerships. The Initiative will connect Hartford’s long-standing cadre of grantees and scholars with one another and, importantly, with clinicians, community agencies, health systems leaders, policymakers and others who deliver and shape health care services for and with older adults and their families.

It is not a moment too soon. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, there is an increasingly urgent need to restructure how this care is delivered in all settings.

“I think the Change AGEnts work is aligned with where the market’s going,” Mr. Appleby says. “It’s also quite frankly aligned with the change we need. We simply can’t wait for other change to happen. We have to start making it happen now.”

Lois Evans, PhD, RN, of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing and Jeffrey Halter, MD, former director of the Division of Geriatrics at the University of Michigan participate in the launch of the Change AGEnts Initiative at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America.

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