Adult children and spouses are the primary caregivers of our nation’s older adults. They provide critically important assistance that helps frail elders remain at home, from meal preparation to such complex medical/nursing tasks as medication management, wound care, and care coordination.
Many of our grantees have heard about two new and exciting opportunities now available to Hartford Change AGEnts. In case you missed prior announcements, here are the details about the Hartford Change AGEnts Policy Institute and the Hartford Interdisciplinary Communications Conference, both taking place this summer.
Anyone who has ever been connected in any way to a Hartford-funded project (as a scholar, grantee, mentor, advisor, etc.) can be a Change AGEnt and is eligible to apply. And please help us spread the word by sharing these opportunities with anyone connected to Hartford who you think could benefit from them.
Hartford Change AGEnts Policy Institute June 22-24, Washington, DC Application due: April 25, 2014
If our work at the John A. Hartford Foundation has taught us one thing, it’s this: In the quest to transform primary care for older adults, a huge part of the answer is deploying more geriatrically expert primary care teams that can coordinate and deliver care designed around the patient’s needs. You could call this the low-hanging fruit of health care reform, because, if there is a population in which we have the biggest opportunity to see improvements in both cost and quality of care outcomes, it is older Americans.
The debate on how best to deliver effective primary care has gone on a long time, sometimes frustratingly so, but it has almost never included a crucial constituency: older adults. Today we are pleased to help change that.
We believe that listening to older adults is essential if we are ever going to transform our primary care system so it can and does deliver well-coordinated, comprehensive, accessible care centered on their needs and goals. This belief has already led the Hartford Foundation to conduct two previous public opinion polls, focused exclusively on adults 65 and older, examining serious gaps in geriatric primary care and mental health care.
Marcus Escobedo, left, talks with AHCJ Executive Director Len Bruzzese at this year’s conference in Denver.
Growing up, my parents would get up every morning, pour their coffee, and read the nearest “big city” newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. In the evening, they’d watch the local TV news, followed by Dan Rather or one of the other network anchors.
The way I get my news today is a bit different, to say the least. I’m reading The New York Times on my phone, browsing through blogs, and paying attention to RSS feeds throughout the day. What hasn’t changed is our need for quality journalism that we can trust to inform and educate us about what’s going on in the world.
We know that to some people, foundations simply seem like large ATM machines. If you have the right card and the right code, then voila, the money for a project or organization is dispensed and you’re done. But we, and many of our funder colleagues, strive to be more than this. We hope that we can add value to the work of grantees, supporting them in ways that go beyond the grant check.
I was invited to write an essay for the annual meeting of Grantmakers in Health, a membership organization for foundations like ours working to improve health and health care. The theme was “The Power of Voice,” and we were asked to share how we use the Foundation’s position and influence to advance our mission and how we amplify the voices of our grantees and stakeholders (for us, older adults). We wanted to share this essay about the Foundation’s communications and “noise-making” efforts and you can read other health foundations’ perspectives here.
We hope this provides some insight into our thinking and motivation for you to join us in raising your voice for better health of older adults.
When I was first hired at the John A. Hartford Foundation, I gave one of the then-Senior Program Officers a giant cup filled with new red pens. It seemed to me at the time that the program staff spent a lot of time editing (aka “making stronger”) all sorts of documents—evaluations, grant proposals, drafts of annual reports, etc.
At the Hartford Foundation we strive to be thought partners with our grantees and, thus, like to share feedback. We share loads of feedback among our staff. In fact, we have been trained on how to receive feedback: Simply nod, say “Thank you,” reflect on the input, and incorporate what is helpful.
Now, for the benefit of the Hartford Change AGEnts initiative, we are seeking your feedback. Here is your virtual cup of red pens. We are in the process of creating documents that define the AGEnts Initiative and we need you.
As we enter 2014, the topic of health care costs continues to be a major topic of conversation in the media and among policy makers. The topic is complex and can be spun in different ways.
You may have seen the recent news about how growth in health care spending in the United States has remained low for four consecutive years, for which the White House would like to take some credit. Or you may have seen news reports about how Medicaid expansion in Oregon led to higher emergency department use (and therefore higher costs), which is used by some to argue against the Affordable Care Act. The bottom line is that understanding health care costs is a complex task.
Clearly, the issue of out-of-control U.S. health care costs is of crucial importance and has been a serious challenge to increasing funding for other needs, such as improving infrastructure and education. It is also one in which the general public, pundits, and politicians look for simple, single reasons and matching solutions, e.g., obesity/calorie designations on menus; malpractice insurance/tort reform, too much government involvement/more private sector competition, etc.
Our most recent annual report celebrated the John A. Hartford Foundation’s 30-year commitment to improving the health of older adults. As part of the online, interactive version of the report, we asked some of our long-time grantees to help us tell the Foundation’s story by sharing short and sweet video messages about our past successes, our current projects, and our new directions.
We want to highlight a few of these brief video clips, each only about one minute long, and invite you to browse and share the other messages in our dynamic online annual report.
In this first video, David Reuben, director of the Multicampus Program in Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology and director of the Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Medicine at UCLA, points out the changes he’s seen over the past three decades in how geriatrics is incorporated into medical student education. Dr. Reuben was a beneficiary of the 1983 Hartford Geriatrics Faculty Development Awards, Hartford’s earliest program to build up the field of geriatrics.
Click photo to watch the Community Catalyst video.
You would think having both Medicare and Medicaid would mean getting more of the benefits and services you need.
But for the 10 million people who receive health care coverage under both systems—who are poor and mostly older adults with complex health and social needs—it’s far too easy to fall between the cracks of these good programs. They are structured differently, have different rules, and often lead to a complicated maze of services and providers.
If our shift in strategy moves our focus from “upstream” academic capacity building to a “downstream” emphasis on the determinants of practice, these vanguard leaders are shooting the rapids and teaching us what can be done with geriatric expertise.