BACKGROUND

Who is a caregiver?

The Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF) recognizes important role family caregivers play in our community.  Caregivers are those who look after dependent individuals such as children with special needs, disabled adults and older adults who require caregiving. Family caregivers frequently perform heroic tasks, including medical and nursing tasks, but are often invisible in our health care system and receive little preparation and support. 

Caregiving in Ventura County

With demographics shifting to an older population, the demand on health care services will accelerate and the type of needed services will change over time. Caregiving and diseases of aging have been identified as priorities in Ventura County’s latest Community Health Needs Assessment. A 2016 report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine, Families Caring for an Aging America, suggests policies involving and supporting family caregivers can improve the delivery of services to older adults with chronic disease, disabilities, cognitive impairment, and other frailties. In 2018, the California Task Force on Family Caregiving recommended that family caregivers be integrated into healthcare settings.

The Future of Caregiving for an Aging Population

The need for long-term care emanates from a gradual and consistent demographic development that may not come into the purview of many people and policymakers, unless they are presented with the reality of this development based on reliable and scientific data. The number of Americans who need long-term care is expected to increase to 27 million in 2050. By 2050, when the last Baby Boomers turn 85, the number of Americans aged 65 or older is projected to increase to almost 89 million, which will make up 20.2% of the estimated total U.S. population.

The cost of caregiving by unpaid family members in its broader definition may include loss of time from work, stress, and emotional suffering which are caused by either taking care of   members in need or not being assured that they are taken care of through a reliable system and means. This report will attempt to include them for the development of a reliable system that can provide long-term cost savings for a community.

Family Caregiver Navigation Project

VCCF and the Hospital Association of Southern California (HASC) have partnered to address these multiple concerns through the Family Caregiver Navigation project.  The objective of the program is to identify and integrate family caregivers as part of the healthcare team by providing targeted support and education to the caregiver and enhancing the ability of healthcare professionals to work with family caregivers. Initial results have demonstrated that this intervention reduces hospital readmissions, emergency room visits and caregiver burden. 

This is a three year grant opportunity available to HASC-affiliated hospitals serving Ventura County residents.* A Caregiver Navigation Toolkit has been created as a guide to implementing the program. In addition to funding, technical assistance and evaluation support will be available to assist grantees with planning and implementation of the program components and to ensure ease and consistency in data tracking activities. Participation in evaluation and data collection activities is a key part of the project and required as part of receiving funding.  These activities may include convenings, surveys, interviews, electronic medical record data, etc., as specified in the toolkit. Evaluation of the effort will be funded separately from individual grants. The level of funding available from VCCF may vary depending on specific strategies, the number of participating hospitals, patient/caregiver dyads and other factors. A matching financial commitment to the project’s costs by the hospital is expected. Funding for successive years is dependent upon successful implementation of prior year goals.    

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