The Weinberg Caregiver Initiative: Support Through Innovation

Caregiver

The Caregiver Initiative is a three-year funding program that began in 2009. Grants totaling $8.1 million with matching requirements totaling an additional $3.3 million were made to 14 nonprofits in nine states to demonstrate innovative and evidence-based community projects that help family and friends care for chronically ill or disabled low and moderate income older adults.

The Foundation is excited to provide a forum for projects supporting family and informal caregivers to older adults. Forum participants can share best practices, innovative ideas, and ask questions of the funded projects regarding their work and findings. 

Project background, goals, and selection criteria

According to a National Alliance for Caregiving/AARP National Caregiver Survey, “at least 30 million adults provide ongoing care that is critical in helping friends and loved ones with debilitating illnesses remain in their homes and other community settings. It is estimated that at least 75% of all care received by older adults in the United States is provided by family members and friends, and many do not consider themselves caregivers.

It is a difficult challenge. For most there is no alternative. As a society, we simply do not have the resources to provide professional caregivers and support services to everyone who needs assistance. But we do have community assets which can be used in more creative ways. Through the Caregiver Initiative, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation will help community partnerships develop innovative ways to support these devoted caregivers.

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Research shows that caregivers themselves miss a great deal of work, and can feel overwhelmed and depressed. In addition, three of the greatest needs expressed by family caregivers are assistance with obtaining accurate information, transportation and community mobility, and short-term respite care. Long distance caregivers face an additional burden. According to the Caregiving in Rural America 2006 report issued by Easter Seals and the National Alliance for Caregiving, “family caregivers look to the internet and doctors for information; for support, they most often turn to prayer, friends, and relatives.”

The best solutions for improving long-term care and supportive services for older adults living in the community must include their family and informal caregivers, as well as the active engagement of older adults and other community members and assets. The primary goal of the Weinberg Caregiver Initiative is to increase support for family and informal caregivers who assist older adults living in the community.

Caregiver Initiative Participants

The 14 projects included in the Caregiver Initiative are not-for-profit organizations or governmental agencies or entities. Diversity is a guiding principle of this program. Many of the projects focus on inclusion of underserved or underrepresented racial groups. They represent both urban and rural areas and serve a geographic area with at least fifteen percent (15%) of its residents age 55 or older. The majority of the older adults and their caregivers being served by the projects have a household income less than the median income in the applicable community.

The Caregiver Initiative provides support to innovative and/or evidence-based community initiatives or projects that help family and informal caregivers assist low and moderate income, community-dwelling older adults in maintaining their independence and quality of life. Innovation refers to new or expanded approaches to supporting family and informal caregivers and, if appropriate, the integration of new technologies. Innovation may differ from community to community.  For more detailed information about each of the Caregiver Initiative projects including contact information, click on the link below:

pdf Caregiver Initiative Participants (pdf) 4 MB

Projects are providing direct support services that impact the lives of family and informal caregivers (including long-distance caregivers) as part of community partnerships who, in turn, are providing a comprehensive array of programs and services to older adults. These partnerships provide multi-faceted community referral and information networks.

Each project is required to develop and implement a strategic plan to be sustainable after Foundation funding is completed.

Evaluation is very important to the Caregiver Initiative. The Foundation is particularly interested in hard evidence that indicates that the approaches of these projects take actually relieve stress on families and other informal caregivers and add to the effectiveness of the caring network. Each of the projects is conducting their own internal evaluation. However, each internal evaluation is coordinated with an overall (external) evaluation of the 14 projects funded by the Foundation.  

 

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