Editor’s Note: This article was originally written for the Health Affairs Grant Watch Blog.
For more than twenty years, the John A. Hartford Foundation has worked to improve the health of older Americans. And over that time, institutionally, we have shifted from deep skepticism about publicity and communications to what we hope is a balanced sense of how communicating to, and hearing from, the public can improve our work. In 2012, we extended our efforts to educate the public through two national public polls, through which we asked people older than age sixty-five about their experiences with, and views about, health care.
Given our size (endowment of $500 million) and average grant of almost $1 million over three years, the total cash cost of these polls feels reasonable ($20,000 to $30,000) and is comparable to some of the other “non-grant” ways we have tried to advance our mission (for example, publishing reports, convening grantees and policy audiences, and providing training in capacity building). Of course, it also requires an enormous effort from foundation staff and our outsourced communications colleagues from Strategic Communications and Planning.
Elizabeth’s inspiring story of how she overcame years of depression triggered by the murder of her daughter and subsequent death of her husband is featured in our 2011 annual report video series.
The release earlier this month of our second national poll, “Silver and Blue: The Unfinished Business of Mental Health and Older Americans,” capped a year in which the John A. Hartford Foundation has focused a spotlight on mental health issues.
We made mental health and older adults the focus of our award-winning 2011 annual report, and we brought the stories of real people we told in the pages of the report to life in a series of captivating videos that ran throughout the fall.
Ten years ago this month, the initial results of a $10 million depression treatment project funded by the Hartford Foundation (with co-funding from the California HealthCare, Hogg, and Robert Johnson Foundations) were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
In what remains the largest multi-site randomized trial of its kind, the project—called IMPACT—showed that it is possible to double the benefits of the usual treatment of older adults for depression in primary care practices. And it demonstrated what changes are needed in the process of depression care to ensure that more patients get better.
So how much progress has our nation made in providing better mental health care for older adults, a decade later? To find out, we commissioned our second national poll, with help from Strategic Communications and Planning, called “Silver and Blue: The Unfinished Business of Mental Health Care for Older Adults.”
Recently, you heard from the creative team—our writer, photographers, and videographers—for our award-winning 2011 annual report focused on mental health and older adults. In that blog post, Don Battershall reported that in order to capture the stories of the older adults, caregivers, and health care professionals featured in the annual report, he needed to “really slow down and just listen, let the person talk.”
Today, we are delighted to give you the opportunity to “slow down and listen,” just as Don did, through the first of our collection of 2011 annual report videos.
The first video features Elizabeth, an inspiring older adult who overcame years of depression triggered by the murder of her daughter and subsequent death of her husband. Elizabeth, together with her Depression Care Manager Rita Haverkamp, RN, MNS, CNS, participated in Project IMPACT—a successful, Hartford-funded model to assess and treat depression in a primary care setting.
As our dedicated 2012 Hartford Foundation annual report blog series followers know, our August 7 blog featured the creative team behind our award-winning annual report. Intrigued by their stories, we asked our annual report writer, Lynne Christensen, to tell us more about her experience writing about mental health and older adults.
Writing this year’s annual report had personal significance for me that I could not have anticipated when I began the project. About halfway through the writing process, I learned that my 81-year-old mother needed a heart valve replacement, and the surgery couldn’t wait. It was a traumatic surgery for someone her age.
Alice Christensen and her beloved cat, Sugar
Last year I had the honor of announcing our first-ever Gold Award in the Vision Award Annual Report Competition sponsored by the League of American Communications Professionals (LACP) for our 2010 Hartford Annual Report.
This year, I get to brag again. Our 2011 Hartford Annual Report focused on mental health and older adults won a Silver Award in this year’s Vision Award competition. (As an official Hartford Bean Counter, I do feel obliged to report that our overall score of 97/100 was higher than last year’s 96/100.). Again, we won accolades for our narrative, creativity, and information accessibility, earning perfect marks on all.
Rather than simply bragging, I want to do some thanking. While Frank Doll, Nora OBrien-Suric, Jessie White, and I worked pretty hard on this report, the real, creative heavy lifting fell to Lynne Christensen (writer), Don Battershall (designer/photographer/videographer) and Will Mebane (photographer/videographer).