My 77-year old father underwent surgery two years ago and I recall how frightening it was for him, my mother, and our entire family. Unfortunately, our fear was realized when he had a terrible post-operative infection that sent him to the emergency room and on to a follow-up surgery.
Sadly, he and my mom were not given good hospital discharge instructions and they ignored signs of problems far too long. No follow-up appointment with his primary care provider had been set, either, which could have averted the complication (and to this day, I kick myself for not catching that).
It could have been much worse. For patients older than my father with more chronic conditions, even surgery that is technically perfect can be fraught with danger and poor outcomes without the application of geriatric best practices that address the whole-person needs of the patient.
As the new year approaches, we look forward to the new grant projects that promise to make 2016 an exciting time for the John A. Hartford Foundation, our grantees, and colleagues who are all working to improve the care of older adults! We have so much to celebrate that has already been accomplished and the momentum going forward is palpable.
I am pleased to let you know that last week, our Trustees, led by Board Chair Peggy Wolff, approved five grants totaling $6.7 million. These projects, while focusing on a range of settings where older adults need improved care, all have several important features in common.
Whether it is the emergency department (ED), nursing homes, or in primary care, these projects will each utilize the deep knowledge of our John A. Hartford Foundation network of experts in the care of older adults. And while a single organization serves as our official grantee for each, they all will be successful because of strong collaboration among multiple organizations that share a commitment to creating large-scale change to meet the needs of older adults, their families, and our entire society.
The Gerontological Society of America (GSA) has been one of the John A. Hartford Foundation’s key grantee partners for more than 20 years. The organization is now the home of the John A. Hartford Foundation Change AGEnts Initiative, which is helping interprofessional alumni of our programs work together in exciting new ways to make practice and policy changes that improve the care of older adults.
As a Fellow of the society who had the privilege of serving as president of the organization’s board, I know first-hand how important GSA is to the entire field of aging. The GSA annual scientific meeting has always been a highlight for me, and that’s especially true this year, as it’s my first time attending as President of the John A. Hartford Foundation. As always, I am thrilled to learn about the latest aging science across the spectrum of academic disciplines. And at this year’s conference in Orlando, I also get to engage with grantees to learn more about their work, and with leaders in the field to discuss the Foundation’s important efforts, which have often supported many of these individuals.
As it does every year, the GSA awards program features many of these Foundation-supported leaders among those being honored. We congratulate the following awardees and look forward to continuing to work with them and others to advance better care for our aging population:
Click image to view or download a PDF of the state-by-state report.
In health care, as in so much of life, where you live matters. Understanding geographic variation in health care has long been a useful tool for targeting our attention and making improvements where we need them most.
Thanks to a report card released earlier this month by the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC) and National Palliative Care Research Center, you can find out how well or poorly your state and geographic region is doing regarding equitable access to palliative care in hospitals. You can use this information to help advocate for better access in your state and at the national level.
This is the last in a series of six Health AGEnda posts on the 2014 Annual Report.
Editor’s Note: The John A. Hartford Foundation’s 2014 Annual Report features five profiles of Hartford Change AGEnts whose work is representative of the kinds of practice and policy change the initiative is making. Read Harnessing the Power of Hartford Change AGEnts for more on the Change AGEnts Initiative. Today, we meet Renée Markus Hodin, Carol Regan, and Gregg Warshaw, MD, of Community Catalyst, who are working to bring the perspectives of older adults and aging-expert health professionals to efforts to improve care for the vulnerable population eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. The John A. Hartford Foundation Board of Trustees recently approved a three-year, $1.5 million renewal grant to expand Community Catalyst’s work. This post concludes our special Health AGEnda series spotlighting the stories and videos of Hartford Change AGEnts profiled in the Annual Report.
As a geriatrician, Gregg Warshaw, MD, has watched with mounting frustration as older adults are bounced back and forth between nursing homes and hospitals—decisions often driven by the different financial models used by Medicare and Medicaid.
The Trustees of the John A. Hartford Foundation approved three grants totaling more than $3.28 million last week that we believe will lead to fundamental, long-term changes in the way care is delivered to older adults.
We renewed and expanded our work to ensure that the voices of older adults and aging-expert professionals are influencing debates about health care delivery through advocacy; we are supporting the development of quality measures and performance standards that support integrated, patient-centered, goal-based care that helps people to achieve their priority outcomes; and through the collaborative ReFraming Aging Initiative, we will counter the pervasive negative beliefs about aging that are barriers to improving the care of older people.
Under our Policy and Communications portfolio, the Board approved a three-year, $1.5 million renewal grant that will expand the partnership between aging-expert health care professionals and consumer advocates in the Voices for Better Health initiative. This project of Community Catalyst, a nonprofit, Boston-based health care advocacy organization, is working to ensure that integrated health plans for dually eligible Medicare/Medicaid individuals deliver high-quality care to this low-income, vulnerable population.
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.
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.
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.