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Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving
"The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) was established in 1987 on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) in Americus, Georgia. The RCI was formed in honor of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, an alumna of GSW, to enhance her long-standing commitments to human development and mental health.
Mission and Philosophy
The Rosalynn Carter Institute establishes local, state and national partnerships committed to building quality long-term, home and community- based services. We believe this begins with providing caregivers with effective supports and making investments that promote caregiver health, skills and resilience. We also believe strongly in the need to provide greater recognition and support for professional and family caregivers. Our focus includes supporting individuals and caregivers coping with chronic illness and disability across the lifespan as well as limitations due to aging.
The Caregiver Crisis
The backbone of our country's long-term, home and community-based care system is the family caregiver. The approximately 50 million caregivers in the United States provide $350 billion worth of unpaid services each year. That is more than twice what is spent nationwide on nursing homes and paid home- care combined. Whether family caregivers continue to provide the historically high levels of care to their members with long-term care needs remains to be seen. Currently, family caregivers receive little training on how to deliver complicated care, are not treated as partners in their loved one's care, and not encouraged to maintain their own health. Not surprisingly, a 25-year body of research shows that family caregivers are at increased risk for health, emotional, financial, and work-related problems.
We believe its a simple matter of common sense to support family caregivers. Research shows us that by providing tailored supports we can reduce levels of stress, increase positive aspects of care, and assure that families remain the backbone of long-term care. Supporting caregivers will allow individuals with long-term care needs to safely remain in their own homes for longer periods of time and maintain the health and quality of life for both the caregiver and care recipient. Increasing evidence also shows that providing comprehensive supports to family caregivers reduces or delays nursing home placement and is therefore cost effective. Comprehensive support will be defined based on the needs of each individual family, but will generally include psycho-social and counseling programs, direct assistance with care, respite, home modification, income support and health insurance, and assistance with nutrition and meals as needed.
For most families, involvement in a tailored and flexible counseling and training program is highly beneficial. A growing number of counseling and support interventions have been tested in randomized control clinical trials and found to significantly improve the well-being of family caregivers, reduce levels of clinical depression, and delay nursing home placement. Implementation of these programs on a widespread basis is an important step in the direction of providing comprehensive supports. The current need is two fold: First, we need to speed the translation and implementation of proven programs for widespread use in the community, and second, we need to establish their eligibility for reimbursement through insurance, including Medicaid and Medicare, and other funding streams. For these two things to happen, the public, the health community, policy makers and caregivers must champion a vision of long-term care that recognizes that the needs of patients and those who support them can no longer be separated; we must have a vision of chronic illness management and long-term care that is family-centered and built to support and faciliate the efforts of family caregivers. Ultimately, we need a national policy on caregiver assistance that recognizes the central role family caregivers in long-term care, and invests strategically in their health, well being and effectiveness.
In October 2010, the RCI published its Position Paper ""Averting the Caregiving Crisis: Why We Must Act Now"". Since that time, RCI has been actively working with local, State and Federal agencies to obtain buy-in for the recommendations made in the paper. An update on these activities will be published in January, 2012. "