Caring for Caregivers Program Expands Reach

Caring for caretakers

RUSH is making health history. One year after receiving funding through a grant from the John A. Hartford Foundation, the RUSH Caring for Caregivers model is expanding to help caregivers in Illinois and beyond.

The C4C framework is simple: A health care provider will ask their patient whether they’re caring for someone at home. If they are, the provider can share C4C resources and guidance to help that person navigate managing their own physical and emotional health on top of making sure their loved one’s needs are also met.

It provides a model to systematically engage family caregivers — but doesn’t have to be followed by the book. Diane Mariani, a licensed clinical social worker at RUSH and C4C program manager, said the model allows health care systems to take what works for them and leave what doesn’t.

“We have an adaptable approach to implementing the C4C model. We assist health care systems by suggesting a variety of ways they can identify, understand and assist caregivers based on their unique setting and current resources, with key consideration for the community they serve. It’s why we’re confident we’ll be able to help others adopt it,” Mariani said.

Grady Memorial Hospital in partnership with the Emory University School of Medicine is one of the latest health care providers to sign on to implement the C4C program. Ugochi Ohabunwa, MD, is a professor of medicine and the chief of geriatrics at Grady, which is a designated Age-Friendly Health System in Atlanta. She said the program will be essential in improving outcomes for older adults who need support.

“Patient outcomes are very dependent on the caregiver. If the caregiver is engaged and knowledgeable about their loved one’s medications and appointments, the caregiver will likely do a better job and the patient will likely have a great outcome as a result,” Ohuabunwa said. “Investing in caregivers is a great way to ensure patients do well and make sure we have great outcomes for both the loved one and the caregiver.”

It's not just hospital systems signing on. CVS Minute Clinics in Illinois are also participating, screening for caregivers and providing C4C as a resource to older adults during their Medicare annual wellness visit. The goal is to reach even more Age-Friendly Health Systems across the country.

“The John A. Hartford grant funding has provided us the opportunity to reach a whole new group of caregivers in different parts of the country, experiencing similarly unique challenges,” Mariani said. “It’s an incredible thing to know that caregivers across the country will start to feel more supported and more confident in the assistance they provide to the older adults they care for.”