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The Future of Caregiving

By Kathy Kelly, Executive Director, and Ping Hao, Board President, Family Caregiver Alliance Government, nonprofit, media, and business leaders from the Bay Area gathered earlier this week at FCA’s first annual Thought Leader Roundtable and Award Dinner.  The theme of the event, held at the University Club, was “The Future of Caregiving: Private/Public Partnerships.”  The event was the kick-off a series of thought leader roundtables from across sectors to be held regionally throughout the San Francisco Bay Area on topics such as housing, healthcare, technologies that assist in caregiving, legal and financial management, community connections, art and creativity.

The John A Hartford Foundation was honored with FCA’s “Thought Leadership Award,” given to recognize an organization with a proven track record of making a positive impact on family caregivers at the national level through research, enablement, policy, and the delivery of service.

Amy Berman, Senior Program Officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation, accepted the award.  Kathy Kelly explained that the foundation has a unique approach of working to effect broad systems change and staying engaged with its grantees to help push, encourage, and sustain their work. More information about the foundation’s work, including their “Professional Partners Supporting Family Caregiving” is available on their website.

There was also a panel discussion with Dana Mead (Investment Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Beyers), Kathy Kelly (Executive Director, Family Caregiver Alliance), Dr. Monique Lambert (Medical Ethnographer and Investigator, David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation at Palo Alto Medical Foundation) and Amy Berman (Senior Program Officer, John A. Hartford Foundation) focused on the future of caregiving. The panel and the audience discussed several powerful forces, including the large demographic shift that is already happening, reforms included in the Affordable Care Act, and new technologies.  Dr. Lambert discussed her organization’s work creating linkAges™ Successful Aging Program, a community ecosystem of social connections and resources intended to support seniors.

Affordable Care Act and Caregiving In response to an audience question about the potential impact if the Affordable Care Act is deemed unconstitutional, Amy Berman explained that the demographic changes will continue regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision.  She also cited a hospital readmission rate (within 30 days) of about one in five for Medicare beneficiaries and questioned if people would accept a car breaking down again one in five times after they took it into the garage for repairs.  Dana Mead suggested that the health care industry has begun moving forward with the reforms included in the Affordable Care Act, and that stopping that shift is unlikely. Kathy Kelly also discussed the role of government moving forward and suggested that middle class families may be especially squeezed as government funding is reduced to an absolute safety-net approach.  International approaches to addressing caregiving were also discussed, with Dana Mead joking that the “U.S. often builds a spaceship when a hang-glider would do,” and Dr. Lambert suggesting that other countries are providing elder care more cost efficiently, and perhaps the U.S. could learn from their approaches. Nonprofits, Entrepreneurs, and Caregiving Audience and panel members also discussed how entrepreneurs, companies, and non-profits can partner in the caregiving world.  Amy Berman highlighted the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology and several developer challenges coordinated in conjunction with this office and Health 2.0. Dana Mead suggested that non-profits may have a role in “organizing” the caregiving playing field, especially since non-profits add a level of credibility when speaking about policy challenges, whereas businesses could be perceived as having vested interests.  Mead explained that while venture capital’s investment in health care IT has been somewhat limited in the past, he thinks it will increase. After the panel discussion, attendees participated in their own round-table discussions.  People were asked to consider several questions, including how public/private models can successfully serve family caregivers, the opportunities and challenges with technology and caregiving, and what family caregiving issues are not currently being addressed. [[{“type”:”media”,”view_mode”:”media_large”,”fid”:”453″,”attributes”:{“class”:”media-image aligncenter size-medium wp-image-1957″,”typeof”:”foaf:Image”,”style”:””,”width”:”300″,”height”:”199″,”alt”:”Participants at FCA”}}]] After discussions at the tables, moderators from each table gave brief highlights.

A number of issues were discussed, and many of the conversations focused on the challenges and opportunities of nonprofits, businesses, and entrepreneurs working together. Several themes emerged, including:

  • How to develop trust among partners;
  • The need to bridge language, terminology, and culture gaps that may exist;
  • How nonprofits can provide information/feedback to entrepreneurs and other businesses and how they should be compensated for their expertise; and
  • The differences in disseminating information about products vs. recommending them

A broader theme, which seemed present in nearly all of the conversations, was how all of the partners in the room can work together in efforts to better support the rapidly growing population of family caregivers. The conversations on the future of caregiving were timely, with Pew Population projections suggesting that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day for the next 19 years.  Family caregivers have also been the subject of a popular NPR series- “Family Matters: The Money Squeeze” that is following three multigenerational families and the decisions they face regarding elder care, college, and retirement costs. Later this month, PBS will launch Next Avenue, intended to connect people who are 50+ (a population that will increase 20% over the next ten years) with each other, information, and resources that will allow them to “age vitally and with independence.”  Family Caregiver Alliance is a content partner for Next Avenue. Thank you to all of the attendees who helped create an enlightening evening for everyone.

Do you have any thoughts on the future of caregiving, and how non-profits, entrepreneurs, businesses, government, and family caregivers can work together to better support family caregivers? Please share in the comments section below.