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PHI and NAC Unveil Direct Care Worker and Family Caregiver Initiative: Together in Care

New multi-year collaboration draws attention to the policy barriers, research needs, and workforce interventions that can elevate the bond between these caregivers, creating a more sustainable long-term care system.


PHI and the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) unveiled a new joint multi-year collaboration The Direct Care Worker and Family Caregiver Initiative: Together in Care. Its aim is to elevate the relationship between professional and family caregivers to create a more sustainable long-term care system. The initiative is the byproduct of a national advisory group of experts, including researchers, policymakers and practitioners convened by the two partners.


Funded by The John A. Hartford Foundation, the initiative will focus on key policy areas that include integrating direct care workers and family caregivers into interdisciplinary care teams, expanding access to consumer direction programs to compensate daily caregivers, strengthening matching service registries to connect families with paid caregivers, and investing in new research on the dynamics between direct care workers and family caregivers to develop targeted interventions and policies.


Together, direct care workers and family caregivers provide essential support to millions of older adults and people with disabilities. The initiative will increase awareness of the challenges direct care workers and family caregivers face as partners in providing care - and advocate for solutions that support this relationship.


This collaboration is focusing on four key policy areas to support direct care workers and family caregivers:


1. Promoting Care Integration

2. Expanding Access to Consumer Direction

3. Strengthening Matching Service Registries

4. Investing In Research


The initiative will draw attention to the policy barriers, research needs, and workforce interventions that can elevate the bond between these caregivers, creating a more sustainable long-term care system.


These two caregiver groups typically are not formally integrated into care teams, often resulting in miscommunication, missed collaboration opportunities and poor care outcomes. A lack of communication between the two groups also can lead to differing perspectives and expectations.


The direct care workforce is expected to add 1 million new jobs from 2021 to 2031 — more than any other single occupation in the nation, according to PHI. That figure jumps to 9.3 million total job openings in direct care when accounting for jobs that must be filled when existing workers transfer to other occupations or exit the workforce. This job growth will occur primarily in the home- and community-based services sector, with the home care and residential care workforces.


“Together, direct care workers and family caregivers form the backbone of our long-term care system, providing essential support to millions of older adults and people with disabilities,” PHI President and CEO Jodi M. Sturgeon said in a statement. “Their critical connection frequently goes unrecognized, which hinders the full potential of this partnership in providing high-quality, person-centered care.”


These challenges complicate the caregiving landscape and can amplify the emotional, physical and financial strain of caregivers on both sides, leading to burnout and high turnover rates among direct care workers, as well as diminished health and well-being for both groups, according to NAC President and CEO Jason Resendez.


The initiative follows last fall’s release of the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers — the first national strategy to support family caregivers, as well as address professional caregiver education, training and compensation — by the US Department of Health and Human Services, through its Administration for Community Living. The strategy also called for establishing a pipeline of long-term care workers and reforming the LTSS system.


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