Greg Link, MA
Director, Office of Supportive and Caregiver Services
EWA supported the RAISE Family Caregivers Act and is pleased to see it being implemented. Can you share some information about how the Administration for Community Living is overseeing the work of the RAISE family caregiver advisory panel? And what is the charge of the advisory panel?
ACL is appreciative of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance’s interest in the implementation of the requirements of the RAISE Act and for its efforts on behalf of family caregivers. ACL views the RAISE Act as a significant opportunity to shine a spotlight on, and create forward momentum for the numerous needs and challenges faced by families and family caregivers in their efforts to ensure those for whom they provide care are able to remain in the settings of their choosing. The RAISE Act’s charge to the Family Caregiving Advisory Council (FCAC) is clear: “to advise and provide recommendations, including identified best practices, to the [HHS] Secretary on recognizing and supporting family caregivers.” In this regard, ACL is working to ensure the requirements of the Act are met in a variety of ways.
First, ACL issued a “call for nominations” to the public, for 15 non-federal voting seats on the council. We were careful to ensure that each of the required 11 constituency groups as well as the breadth and diversity of the caregiving experience were represented. Second, in late in 2018, ACL collaborated with The John A. Hartford Foundation (JAHF) and helped to design project to fund the National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) to establish a Technical Assistance and Dissemination Resource Center to support the work of the FCAC. The Resource Center will also disseminate best practices and work with states to test and implement the recommendations that emerge from the work of the FCAC, a key component of the RAISE Act. Finally, ACL is currently working with the FCAC and its established working sub-committees to begin writing the Initial Report and laying out the framework for the National Caregiving Strategy, both of which will be released in the coming months.
The first meeting of the advisory council was held in August. Can you share your thoughts on this initial meeting and the priorities developed by the subcommittees? What are the next steps?
The initial meeting of the FCAC was exciting and productive. Recordings of meeting can be viewed here. There was great interest in the lead-up to the meeting as was evidenced by the large numbers of the public in attendance and who watched the live stream of the meeting over both days. The presentations and discussions that took place over the course of the two-day meeting helped lay the groundwork for the FCAC’s work and enabled the council to hone in on the task at hand. Nearly all of the presentations that were given, the materials reviewed and discussions that took place will serve as a basis for the Initial Report or the National Caregiving Strategy, both of which are beginning to be developed by ACL and NASHP with ongoing input and guidance from the members of the FCAC. Writing of the report will continue over the next several months after which attention will turn to the development of the National Caregiving Strategy. In the meantime, the FCAC sub-committees are working closely with ACL and NASHP at every step. We further anticipate the next full council meeting will take place sometime in the first quarter of 2020 and be virtual in nature.
EWA recognizes the important role family caregivers play in the care of older adults. The eldercare workforce is instrumental in supporting (or not supporting) family caregivers in numerous ways. As the panel begins to develop a national strategy on family caregiving, what are some of the workforce topics the panel might discuss and develop solutions around?
Ensuring an adequate workforce to meet the long-term service and support needs of older adults and individuals of any age with a disability and their family caregivers is a critical issue and one that will likely be addressed in some capacity by the FCAC. Topics such as workforce recruitment, training, retention, compensation, among others, are likely to be addressed by the FCAC in its work over the coming months and years and will likely feature prominently in the National Strategy. However, at this time and because the work of the FCAC is really just beginning, no firm decisions as to the content and focus of the strategy have been made.
Can members of the general public attend or watch meetings? Can they participate?
Yes, all meetings of the council, by statute and whether in-person or virtual, will be open to the public. The first meeting of the FCAC in August was live-streamed and provided multiple opportunities for members of the public to provide input and comment. We anticipate this will be the case for all future meetings of the full council.
Finally, what are some other things you are excited about currently that are addressing the nation’s growing number of family caregivers? What are some things you think need to be addressed?
This is an exciting time to be working on behalf of family caregivers and I’m excited about a number of things currently going on in this field. For example, in recent years we’ve seen a growth in research in to the various aspects of family caregiving and caregiver support. To effectively support families and family caregivers, we need to understand their situations, experiences, needs and preferences and research is an important part of gaining that knowledge. Second, here at ACL, our Alzheimer’s Disease Programs have been making steady progress towards increasing the capacities of states and communities to more effectively address the complex needs of caregivers of persons with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. By supporting the replication and translation of research-proven interventions, we are making real inroads in ensuring that our systems of services and supports have the tools and knowledge necessary to support persons with dementia and their family caregivers. Finally, the passage of the RAISE Act will, for the first time, provide us with an opportunity to think comprehensively and strategically about how we as a nation understand and address the needs of family caregivers from all backgrounds and experiences. The work is just beginning and we have a long way to go, but the energy and commitment of the FCAC combined with the support and involvement of a range of stakeholders will help ensure this effort has lasting and meaningful impact.
Finally, ACL was pleased to launch the recently-funded Volunteer Care Corps demonstration program. ACL provided a cooperative agreement to the Oasis Institute to support and test models of local programming designed to place volunteers in communities to assist family caregivers and/or assists older adults and individuals with disabilities in maintaining independence by providing non-medical care. Project will focus activity in two priority areas: 1) improving the nation’s overall capacity to support volunteer programs that provide non-medical care to assist caregivers, older adults, and/or persons with disabilities; and 2) advancing innovative models that support volunteer programs that provide non-medical care to assist caregivers, older adults, and/or persons with disabilities.
Greg Link is the Director of the Office of Supportive and Caregiver Services with the Administration for Community Living/U.S. Administration on Aging, which oversees programs funded under the Older Americans Act (OAA), including Title III-B in-home supportive services, Title III-E National Family Caregiver Support Program as well as ACL’s Alzheimer’s disease programs. Greg and his team also provide general oversight and technical assistance to the aging network on a range of program areas, including Information and Referral, family caregiver support programs and policies, housing, employment, transportation, LGBT aging, and Holocaust Survivors.