Claire Fagin, left, and adventurous dining partner Rachael Watman.
I had lunch with Claire Fagin, PhD, RN, Dean Emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, a few weeks ago. I love meeting with Claire and getting her perspective on the world of nursing, aging, and health care.
I also love eating with Claire. She is among the precious few who will split foie gras with me for dessert. She is always game and thinks outside the plate.
The grants totaling $2.13 million will support an additional 44 Health and Aging Policy Fellows (HAPF) over the next three years and help co-support a new Institute of Medicine (IOM) study on family caregiving of older adults. Both projects also offer great opportunities for our new Hartford Change AGEnts to bring their talents, expertise, and skills to bear on important issues related to creating policy and practice change that improves the health of older Americans.
Palliative care is specialized medical care that focuses on relieving the symptoms, pain, and stress of serious illness, which is critically important for the older adult population. While often confused with being only about end-of-life and hospice care, palliative care provides the extra layer of support needed by people and their families dealing with serious illness at any point in their lives. Palliative care principles and practices can also help organizations achieve both better quality and financial viability.
“The Health and Aging Policy Fellowship gave me access to national health policy leaders that I continue to work with to make a greater impact in promoting the health of vulnerable older adults.”
This is what Adriana Perez, one of the 2012 Health and Aging Policy Fellows (HAPF), recently told me regarding her Fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control.
Adriana, an alumna of our Hartford geriatric nursing post-doc fellowship, told me that among the numerous benefits she derived from the program, “I also had the opportunity to build my own interprofessional network with diverse fellows at all stages of career trajectories—who are all passionate about gerontological health.”
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.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”—Margaret Mead
Our mission at the John A. Hartford Foundation is to change the health of older Americans for the better. And despite the national investment in health care and the excitement of research, I don’t think we are alone in seeing this as a long, slow road.
Elena O. Siegel, an assistant professor at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at University of California-Davis and a 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Nurse Faculty Scholar, is a fine example of the kind of nurse leaders the new fellowship hopes to create. Siegel is a former Claire M. Fagin Postdoctoral Fellow, funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity program and Atlantic Philanthropies.
With the memory of the greeting card and chocolate-fueled Valentine’s Day in our rear view mirror, we would like to honor the part of the holiday that focuses on relationships by announcing a new partnership.
Change doesn’t just happen. It requires bold leadership, innovative thinking, resourcefulness, and an unwavering determination to swim against the tide when necessary.
So where will we find the leaders we so desperately need to bring change to our unwieldy and dysfunctional health care system? Practice Change Leaders for Aging and Health, a new national program co-funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation and The Atlantic Philanthropies, represents a significant step toward answering that question.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2013, the Practice Change Leaders Program will choose 10 health care leaders per year for three years through a rigorous, competitive application process. Those selected will receive one year of funding to complete innovative projects and expand their effectiveness as organizational leaders.
We’ve all seen the data. The number of older adults is on the rise. They bear a disproportionate burden of our dysfunctional health care system, both in terms of poor quality and higher spending. And while there are serious pockets of innovation addressing care of older adults, all too often leaders in health care settings lack the skills to implement and spread these important advances. In response to this national gap in leadership, The Atlantic Philanthropies—in partnership with the John A. Hartford Foundation—funded the Practice Change Fellows Program.
Five years and 38 fellows later, the Altarum Institute released a report that highlights the Practice Change Fellows Program’s successful efforts to develop change leaders who spread innovations that improve the health of older adults. The impacts are nothing short of astounding. The two-year Fellows program was the brainchild of Eric Coleman, MD, MPH, University of Colorado, and Nancy Whitelaw, PhD, from the National Council on Aging. The program aims to expand the number of health care leaders from medicine, nursing, and social work who can effectively promote high-quality care for older adults to a wide range of health and health care organizations. Fellows learned key skills to support spreading innovations, such as how to make the business case to the “C-suite” (CEO, CFO, etc…), and were mentored by leading experts in the field of aging.
The Practice Change Fellows report gives example after example of successful innovation and diffusion, including cutting edge approaches for dementia care, patient-centered health homes, care transitions, rural congestive heart failure management, delirium, and more.
Leadership, as featured in our 2008 Hartford Annual Report, is defined by four key elements: Formal Training, Mentoring, Peer Networking, and Answering the Call. Leaders rarely rise spontaneously from within the ranks of health professionals and often need special training, nurturing, and support. Even though leadership often seems to emerge from nowhere, it is almost always the product of years of work.
Consistent with this, our Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Initiative (BAGNC), now over 200 scholars and fellows strong, is designed to grow gero-expert nurse leaders who can prepare all nurses to be competent to care for older adults.