Butte, Mont., with the former Berkley Pit copper mine in the distance.
My recent travels to the rural Northwest to visit clinics that have applied for the next round of Social Innovation Fund (SIF) grants have given me an even deeper appreciation of both the beauty of this part of the country and the heartbreaking human needs that we are trying to address.
I went out to Idaho, Montana, and Alaska on a 10-day trip accompanied by Diane Powers, associate director for translation and implementation for our longtime partner, the University of Washington’s Advancing Integrated Mental Health Solutions (AIMS), and we visited four clinics that applied for funding.
One of these days, if you’re feeling daring and want to stir the pot around a table of people – whether you know them or not – ask them what they believe the role of government should be. From Knoxville to Karachi, you’ll hear all kinds of answers. Before anybody comes to blows over their strongly held views, remind them that this question was central to Plato and it is central to the human condition. It’s a question worth asking.
As an evidence-based, non-partisan grantmaking foundation with a specific area of interest, we have spent decades pursuing strategies that improve the well-being of older adults. We engage with public and private institutions every day and ask ourselves what initiatives can we support that will make those institutions perform better for people. You might think that we stick to our knitting.
Together, along with several other key people, we worked to establish a partnership with the VA to adopt the Hartford Partnership Program in Aging Education (HPPAE), a rotational field model used to train master’s level social work students to work with older adults in a variety of settings.
Today is our 500th blog post on Health AGEnda. In another few months, we will have been working on this project for five years. We wanted today’s post to be special—and special for us means to be about better care for older adults and how the leaders we support are working to achieve it.
All of our grantees are special and all are doing vital work. One of the projects we didn’t start, but have come to value in our seven years of funding, is the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). The work of the CAPC team and its leader, Diane E. Meier, MD, has taught us a great deal about how to think about being person-centered in the care of people with serious illness.
In the world of philanthropy, there are only a handful of foundations focusing on aging and even fewer on aging and health issues.
Five years ago, The SCAN Foundation—an independent private foundation created by, but independent of, The SCAN Health Plan in Long Beach, Calif.,—was born. Over the years, they have been excellent colleagues, co-leaders in Grantmakers in Aging (GIA) and occasional partners on projects. In 2013, the John A. Hartford Foundation and The SCAN Foundation together cofunded an $800,000 grant to the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) to take on a major challenge: to help develop measures of quality of care for frail and disadvantaged elders that would be based on personalized goals of care and preferences.
In December 2013, Bruce Chernof, MD, president and CEO of The SCAN Foundation, spoke to the Hartford Foundation board about SCAN’s new five-year strategic plan, long-term care reform, and our deepening partnership. We look forward to working with Dr. Chernof and our other colleagues at SCAN over the next five years and beyond.
Over the past 10 years at the Hartford Foundation, I have been on many site visits. More often than not, it is apparent that Hartford project leadership does not know their university or school’s development team (and vice versa). It is clear that they convene once a year for the annual Hartford site visit. Why do you think there aren’t better relationships between project leaders and the development officers?
It’s difficult to speak to what happens at other institutions. OHSU is fortunate that with the generous support from the Hartford Foundation over the past 13 years, gerontological studies is an area of excellence for nursing—and at OHSU, in general. Thus it grew in prominence as a university priority, most formally with our fundraising effort called the Faculty Support Initiative in 2009. Aging is now considered an ongoing strategic and fundraising priority. This has helped build strong internal and external relationships needed for ongoing effective communication and collaboration. It’s become more integrated in our “core business”—not an annual thing.
We all know that one of the key ingredients in the special sauce of outstanding projects is strong leadership. The most successful John A. Hartford Foundation grants have thrived because of leaders who comprehensively identify and routinely assemble the key stakeholders of their work to form a committed team.
Strong leadership and team-building are even more essential at times of transition, such as with our academic geriatrics and training grant programs. After decades of funding schools of nursing, medicine, and social work to develop gero-expert faculty and change curricula, we have made final renewals to these academic centers and will be putting all of our resources toward directly changing health care delivery and practice. Many of these academic centers are working hard to sustain their programs with diversified fundraising strategies, including the excellent exemplars at Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence.
Cathy Kemmerer and Rachel Hitchcock, part of the collaborative development team at OHSU.
While the most important part of this story has been the thousands of community-based agencies around the country that have adopted and offered evidence-based programs that improve the health of older Americans, there have been terrific partnerships behind the scenes among many funders, researchers, and leaders of the movement.
And I’m pleased to say that today, the John A. Hartford Foundation trustees approved a grant to help the evidence-based movement take its next steps. More on that in a minute.
Watch Dr. Francis Collins’ recent appearance on The Colbert Report.
At the John A. Hartford Foundation, our commitment to improving the health of older Americans builds on a long and rich 84-year history in health care and biomedical research with many significant accomplishments.
We have mentioned some milestones in passing (e.g., dialysis and kidney transplantation) and many more are described in the Foundation’s history through the 1980s, The Greatest Good. (You can download PDFs of the Introduction and Chapter One.)