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National Consensus Project for Caregiver Assessment

National Consensus Project for Caregiver Assessment: Translating Research into Policy and Practice

Routinely, people with chronic or disabling conditions are assessed by professionals in medical, health and social service settings to determine what services or treatments they need. Family caregivers, however, have not had the same experience.

There currently is a lack of consensus on the principles, methods and tools for systematic assessment of the caregiver’s needs and situation, despite the interest in—and growing need for—using such assessment as a tool for the effective delivery of specific caregiver support services. “Assessment is a crucial first step,” commented Lynn Friss Feinberg, former Deputy Director of FCA’s National Center on Caregiving, “in identifying and addressing service needs and in improving the ability of family and informal caregivers to continue to provide long-term care at home for their loved ones.”

To respond to the challenge of developing principles and guidelines for caregiver assessment that address practice variations in service delivery settings nationwide, in September 2005 FCA convened a first-ever Consensus Development Conference on Caregiver Assessment. Guideline development was to be based on available evidence from three commissioned background papers and expert professional opinion from the invitees. Key leaders and stakeholders representing broad-based and multidisciplinary perspectives  participated in the invitational event, with the goal of furthering quality improvement efforts and supporting better caregiver and patient outcomes. Conference objectives were to:

  • Create consensus on guidelines to advance caregiver assessment nationally and in each state; and
  • Serve as a catalyst for change at federal, state and local levels to strengthen support for caregiving families and improve the quality of care for frail elders and adults with disabilities.

A White Paper, Tool Kit, agency briefings and other products and technical assistance will be developed to communicate conference results. The consensus development process will provide a credible foundation to begin systematic improvements in policy and practice to sustain family caregivers.

An advisory committee is now working on plans for the conference and the scope of information and publications that will come out of the event. Funding for The National Consensus Project for Caregiver Assessment is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the California Endowment. For more information, contact Kathleen Kelly, Family Caregiver Alliance’s Executive Director, at
(415) 434-3388.