Data from the Administration for Community Living shows that 79 percent of caregivers care for their loved one 24 hours each day. Our nation’s 53 million caregivers are critical to supporting older adults and adults with disabilities, yet family caregivers often lack support. With the number of caregivers steadily increasing, more caregivers are doing more work and experiencing burnout and stress due to their intense caregiving roles. Now more than ever there is an immediate need for investment and expansion of home and community-based services to support caregivers.
The 2021 Community Care Corps Symposium convened grantees, researchers and Aging Network leaders to not only raise program awareness, but to further illuminate the complexities of our national caregiving crisis and the innovative volunteer models grantees have developed to address this challenge.
Community Care Corps grantees implement a variety of approaches to provide essential non-medical assistance and support to both caregivers and care recipients. Caregiver education and skills training, respite programs, care coordination, counseling, self-care and home repairs and modifications aim to alleviate social isolation, loneliness, burnout and stress. These approaches can improve outcomes and quality of life for both caregivers and care recipients, while helping them continue living in their homes and communities.
As noted by presenters and grantees alike, Community Care Corps is a crucial program and key step toward a national caregiving infrastructure that supports and empowers older adults, adultswith disabilities and family caregivers. The symposium featured inspiring keynote addresses and energizing panel discussions focused on activating volunteers, understanding caregiver needs and addressing community needs through innovative models.
This insight from Aging Network leaders combined with on-the-ground perspective from grantees crystallized key considerations for strengthening caregiving support. Speakers offered valuable takeaways for the continued development of volunteer models and inspired future innovations. We’ve listed a few highlights below, but be sure to check out the recordings and keep an eye out for the Symposium Paper that will be published soon to learn more about the breadth of information and examples shared during the symposium. To make the most of your efforts in this arena:
Understand the goals of volunteers to better tailor the design of modelsto increase engagement and impact. Comprehensive volunteer recruitment and retention plans are essential.
Approach caregiver needs holistically, providing support for various partsof their lives. Listen to participants and adapt programming according to what caregivers want.
Identify action steps to appropriately address the unique needs of diverse populations in a culturally competent manner. Explore opportunities that preserve culture. This can be achieved by partnering with local leaders or nontraditional community entities.
Community Care Corps is a critical component of addressing communityneeds through volunteers and we hope that it will become a permanent program as a path forward. Paul Weiss, Oasis Institute CEO, unfortunatelyexperienced a family emergency and was unable to join us for the Symposium. We thank Paul for his remarks below that capture the true value and impact of Community Care Corps, which we seek to replicate across the country:
“The synchronicity of the entire C3 project with my parent’s increased need for caregiving over the last three years, and the sudden amplification over the last 11 days of my mother’s cognitive decline and my Alzheimer’s-affected father’s emergency hospitalization and near-amputation couldn’t have been timed more poignantly. I needed help with dog-care, feeding my mother, engaging with the health care system while tired and stressed, and felt everything falling between the cracks. And yet, I’m in the enviable position for being an informed consumer of health care and aging-support services, with resources to invest in their care, and a robust network of friends and colleagues who are gracious and helpful. The caregivers engaged by the many C3 projects are in much tougher situations. Our shared work is vital and immensely meaningful.”