Family Caregiving: A Public Health Issue That Affects Us All
By CEO James Appleby, BSPharm, MPH
The topic of caregiving has a way of continually rising to the top of our national conversation, including from some unexpected places. Lost in the maelstrom of the 24-hour news cycle was the role that concerns around family caregiving played in a threatened, but thankfully avoided, national rail strike in mid-September. Railway employees were seeking contract changes that would provide adequate sick leave to take care of themselves and leave to support family caregiving.
This is happening at the precise moment that the U.S. Administration for Community Living is accepting comments on its 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. This was created to support family caregivers of all ages, from youth to grandparents, and regardless of where they live or what caregiving looks like for them and their loved ones. The strategy was developed jointly by the advisory councils created by the RAISE Family Caregiving Act and the Supporting Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Act, with extensive input from the public, including family caregivers and the people they support. It will be updated in response to public comments, which can be submitted until the end of November.
This also coincides with November’s National Family Caregivers Month. It offers an opportunity to raise awareness of caregiving issues, educate communities, and increase support for caregivers. The national observance is spearheaded by the Caregiver Action Network in cooperation with the Administration for Community Living. The 2022 theme is #CaregivingHappens.
And there’s a new report out that aims to bolster supports for family caregivers. The National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) has released “Chronic Disease Family Caregiving Through a Public Health Lens: The Framework for Family Caregiving and Public Health,” which was developed with support from The John A. Hartford Foundation and in partnership with the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors. This framework outlines policy recommendations, implementation actions, and messaging content to help the public health community address the complex needs of America’s 53 million family caregivers. Guided by the expertise of state-based chronic disease directors, NAC’s report and framework recognizes the importance of caregivers as a vital part of the health care team and that supporting these family caregivers is essential for improving public health outcomes for communities and the nation.
I encourage you to review these new resources and reflect on how family caregiving impacts you personally and professionally.