Demonstrating its commitment to preserving the dignity and independence of the poorest and frailest older adults, the Weinberg Foundation has set a course to identify and implement the best practices in supporting both informal and paid caregivers.

First Project: The Weinberg Caregiver Initiative

Seeing needs that will only increase in the years to come, in 2009 the Weinberg Foundation began “The Family and Informal Caregiver Initiative,” a three-year funding program, believed to be the largest effort of its kind. The Weinberg Foundation made grants totaling $8.1 million to 14 nonprofits in nine states. The goal was to identify and demonstrate best practices in supporting nonpaid family and informal caregivers (family and friends taking care of loved ones) who provide roughly 80% of the nation’s care to older and disabled adults. Other funders, principally local foundations, businesses, and government agencies, provided an additional $6.5 million in grants to the projects which have made a difference in the lives of more than 300,000 family and informal caregivers. A rigorous external evaluation directly assessed the impact of these programs on the lives of just over 1,400 of those individuals.*

Perhaps the most dramatic result of the Caregiver Initiative is the dollar savings represented for both the individual caregivers and the community-at-large. 1,200 individual nonpaid caregivers (family members and friends) delayed placing their care recipients in a nursing home for at least six months, and they attribute this decision directly to the support they received through the caregiver programming provided.

Applying even the most conservative nursing home costs reveals an estimated savings of $47 million in out-of-pocket expenses for the care recipient/family and government reimbursement.

* Details of survey methodology and program evaluation provided by Debra Sheets, Ph.D., MSN, RN-BC,CNE (2013)
“Family and Informal Caregiver Initiative Program Evaluation and Executive Summary”

Caregiver Snapshot: (Based on a survey of 1,409 caregivers*)

caregiver-snapshot-174% are women and nearly 40% are daughters.
caregiver-snapshot-262% of family and informal caregivers are between the ages of 36 and 64.
caregiver-snapshot-3Roughly 33% of all caregivers had provided care for five years or more.
caregiver-snapshot-4• lack of preparation
• economic strain
• complex family logistics
• family conflict

Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI)

Family and informal caregivers constitute a critical piece of the long-term care support network for older adults, but they are only part of the picture. Paid caregivers make up a nationwide workforce of roughly 3.2 million and rapidly growing. Homecare aides care for our most vulnerable relatives, friends, and neighbors, yet they have very low training standards as an industry. Recognizing that, the Weinberg Foundation’s second major Together We Care project was launched in 2012 and completed in 2014. This was a collaboration between UJA-Federation of New York, Paraprofessional Health Institute (PHI), and the Weinberg Foundation as the lead funder.

The Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative (HAWI) established a best-practices model for recruiting, training, and supervising paid caregivers nationwide. This 27-month program provided hands-on, intensive, comprehensive, and specialty training. The program enrolled 625 low-income individuals, of which 557 (89%) graduated. Successful program graduates became dually certified with portable credentials as a Personal Care Aide (PCA) and a Home Health Aide (HHA). In addition, 456 entry-level workers received Specialized Aide training to develop additional skills and advance their career. The Weinberg Foundation continues to work with Visiting Nurse Services of New York to evaluate the project, including tracking job retention of these workers. Job retention data will be shared as soon as it becomes available.

HAWI’s three implementation sites included CenterLight Health Services/Best Choice, Jewish Home Lifecare/HAPI, and Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., which received technical assistance and support from PHI in order to strengthen entry level training. The focus at each partner site was to build an effective outreach and selection process; develop a case management/supportive services program; and create a sustainable peer mentoring program. The overarching goal of HAWI was to improve the quality of training and employment for home health care and personal care aides. This collaborative effort provided significant impact during a time of immense change and uncertainty in the health and long-term care field. HAWI professionalized training for home health aides and, in turn, improved the quality of care for older adults and people with disabilities.

The Weinberg Foundation provided $1.5 million of the total $2.7 million cost of this project. Other supporting organizations include

  • UJA-Federation of New York and several of their beneficiary agencies – Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., Jewish Home Lifecare, CenterLight Health System, Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty
  • PHI (the Paraprofessional Health Institute)
  • The Visiting Nurse Service of New York
  • New York Alliance for Careers in Healthcare
  • Tiger Foundation
  • Surdna Foundation
  • The New York Community Trust

Next Steps: The Weinberg Foundation is continuing to work with PHI to explore the Homecare Aide workforce in Baltimore. To date, PHI has completed a landscape study, and the Foundation is exploring next steps that would lead to a collaborative model for local implementation of HAWI.