Whether we receive care, provide care, or coordinate care for a loved one, everyone benefits from improving the quality of jobs for America’s 2 million current home care workers and the millions more we’ll need to care for the growing number of older adults in the coming decades.
That’s why the recent ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit affirming the extension of federal labor protections to home care workers is an important victory not only for fairness, but for improving the quality of care for older adults and people living with disabilities.
The decision, handed down on Aug. 21, arrives as care needs for the country’s aging generation are expanding rapidly. PHI, the nation’s leading authority on the direct-care workforce, estimates that the demand for home care workers will increase 50 percent by 2022.
Dr. Joseph Gaugler
Editor’s Note: Health AGEnda recently spoke with Dr. Joseph Gaugler, professor at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing and co-editor (along with Robert Kane, MD) of the new book Family Caregiving in the New Normal. This unique work addresses challenges and offers cost-effective solutions via a comprehensive “roadmap” for family caregivers, clinicians, and policymakers. It also includes chapters from members of the Hartford Change AGEnts Dementia Caregiving Network, a multi-sector, interdisciplinary team of leaders with expertise in practice, policy, and research related to caregiving and dementia whose mission is to achieve improvements in services, supports, and care for those with dementia and their family caregivers.
What is the “New Normal” for family caregivers?
This is the first in a series of six Health AGEnda posts on the 2014 Annual Report.
At the John A. Hartford Foundation, we like to say that our job is not to make grants, but rather to make change.
Making systemic, large-scale practice change is the idea behind the John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts Initiative, which is featured in our 2014 annual report. We approach our annual reports a bit differently than many other organizations. Rather than just recounting our grants and financial statements for the past year, we prefer to focus on one facet of our work and explore it in-depth.
The cover of the recent special supplement to The Gerontologist devoted to the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence (NHCGNE) catches my eye. Take a look. The 18 nurses who grace the cover share the distinction of having been honored with the Doris Schwartz Gerontological Nursing Research Award.
This award, presented by the Gerontological Society of America’s (GSA) Health Sciences Section, is given to a GSA member in recognition of outstanding and sustained contribution to gerontological nursing research.
The special supplement—supported by NHCGNE, which is housed at GSA—traces the evolution of the pioneering work of these outstanding nurse leaders and others at NHCGNE over the years and features 16 articles authored by JAHF-supported nurse leaders spotlighting research in a variety of areas, ranging from in-home fall risk assessments to teaching nursing students to care for older adults.
Glenda Jimmo is a name you should know.
Mrs. Jimmo, who is blind and had her leg amputated due to diabetes, was the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2011 by the Center for Medicare Advocacy on behalf of beneficiaries and seven national organizations representing people with chronic conditions. Mrs. Jimmo requires a wheelchair and needs weekly home health services for her complex conditions. However, she was denied Medicare coverage for services on the grounds that she was unlikely to improve.
This rule of thumb—that Medicare services for skilled nursing or therapy should be discontinued when a patient “plateaus” or will no longer improve—is wrong.
Dr. Suzanne Landis has devoted her life to improving care for older adults.
Suzanne Landis, MD, MPH, drives an older, sensible car. She is an understated person often found standing in the back row of group photos. But don’t let her modest demeanor fool you.
She is one of the most giving and effective people I know. Dr. Landis, who practices geriatrics in rural Western North Carolina, leads the Center for Healthy Aging at the Mountain Area Health Education Center.
The landmark United States Supreme Court decision that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the U. S. Constitution has important implications regarding the health and care of older Americans.
Studies show that denying same-sex couples the right to marry has a negative impact on their mental health, according to a 2006 report by Herdt & Kertzner. And a growing body of evidence suggests that policies conferring protections to same-sex couples are linked to lower health care and mental health care utilization, as well as to decreased health care spending.
There also are numerous studies confirming the health benefits of marriage for older heterosexual couples. “Married persons, on the whole, tend to have lower rates of fatal and nonfatal diseases, physical functioning problems, and disability compared to all other marital status groups,” reported Amy M. Pienta et al. in Health Consequences of Marriage for the Retirement Years, published in the Journal of Family Issues in 2000.
The White House Conference on Aging offers a special, once-a-decade opportunity to focus national attention on issues that the John A. Hartford Foundation has been working on every day for more than three decades. So I am honored and excited to be among those invited to attend this year’s gathering on July 13 with President Obama, national leaders, colleagues in the field, and people participating virtually across the country who will all join in a national conversation about our aging nation.
At the John A. Hartford Foundation, our focus is on better care for older Americans. We believe that improving the quality of care and the way it is delivered will result in better health for older adults and lower health care costs for the nation as a whole. “Healthy Aging,” one of four policy briefs drafted for the conference, addresses issues that are integral to the Foundation’s current grantmaking strategies, including managing chronic conditions, and prevention and treatment for diseases and behavioral health conditions.
I fervently hope that the national dialogue sparked by the conference will lead to more widespread recognition of the critical role to be played by health professionals with specific expertise in aging, and will support efforts to develop, test, and widely spread evidence-based models of care for older adults that achieve better health outcomes at lower costs.