RUSH’s innovative program to support the caregivers of aging family members will be shared with other hospital systems as a model for “age-friendly” care in partnership with the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. The John A. Hartford Foundation awarded the RUSH Center for Excellence in Aging a $1.9 million grant to help other hospitals adopt the Caring for Caregivers program.
“Family caregivers are vital partners in the health of older adults, but they seldom are asked if they are ready, willing or able to provide care,” said Robyn Golden, LCSW, co-director of the Center for Excellence in Aging. “It is crucial that hospitals identify and address their needs as an essential part of the patient’s care plan.”
The Caring for Caregivers program, developed at RUSH with the help of a grant from the RRF Foundation for Aging, creates a structure to systematically engage family caregivers. The program provides caregivers with an assessment of their physical and emotional health, meetings to improve the caregiver’s skill and confidence in caring for the patients and family sessions to develop a care plan that meets the needs of the patient while protecting and enhancing the caregiver’s health and well-being.
Older adults have benefited from program, too, with those whose family caregiver took part having fewer visits to the emergency department, fewer hospitalizations and for shorter times, according to Erin Emery-Tiburcio, PhD, co-director of the Center for Excellence in Aging.
Previous funding from The John A. Hartford Foundation supported a partnership with IHI to pilot the Caring for Caregivers intervention with six diverse health systems, which yielded many important lessons for scaling and spreading the model. With the current three-year grant, the center team will:
- Raise awareness among health systems of the importance of family caregivers.
- Share the model of care for family caregivers with 25 to 40 health systems.
- Identify ways the model can be integrated across the Age-Friendly Health Systems
In 2019, RUSH University Medical Center became the first hospital in Illinois to be part of the Age-Friendly Health Systems initiative, led by The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.