Early in the pandemic, we recognized the disproportionate impact COVID-19 would have on older adults. Our senior fellow, Fred Karnas, began working with the Bob and Anna Lou Schaberg Foundation and other senior-serving entities to understand the needs and challenges of older adults and those organizations supporting them. RMHF Trustees also approved $90,000 in grants to organizations supporting older adults as part of our COVID-19 response grants.
As an outgrowth of what we learned from that process, we commissioned the Elders Report to evaluate and document unmet needs related to caring for older adults in our community.
Now, RMHF and Schaberg Foundation are supporting a three year initiative to advance the home care workforce through compensation, training and accessibility.
To date, RMHF has committed more than $700,000 in funding over three years to support the initiative. In this pilot program, “Living Well: Valuing Care Providers and Their Work,” Jewish Family Services and Family Lifeline will work together to build equity, capacity and community.
Specifically, the initiative will:
- Support a competitive compensation package that offers a $15-per-hour minimum wage to all Care Providers
- Establish a dependable system of back-up transportation to help Care Providers travel to assignments in distant locations or challenging situations, decrease employment barriers and increase reliability of services
- Expand Care Providers’ skills, knowledge, and confidence with holistic training opportunities
- Convert to new Home Care HER customizable software to Improve data tracking capabilities
It is our combined hope that addressing the issue of wages head on will start to create systemic change for traditionally undervalued Care Providers, while greater access to transportation and technology outlines a more formal structure for elder care supports.
LeadingAge, a community of nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-driven organizations serving older adults, will conduct a three year evaluation to measure and offer insights on the pilot program’s effectiveness.
In addition to financial support, RMHF and Schaberg Foundation recently convened 25 public leaders, grantee partners, NGOs and CDFIs in the Richmond region for a discussion session “The Future of Older Adults,” facilitated by The Spark Mill. As a group, we discussed workforce, housing, policy and coordination and alignment of services. We hope to release a report in the next few months that provides insights and recommendations from our collective conversations and work.