Congressional Report Highlights Ways to Better Support Family Caregivers

The RAISE (Recognize, Assist, Include, Support, and Engage) Family Caregiving Advisory Council recently delivered to Congress key recommendations to support the millions of unpaid family caregivers that support older adults and people with disabilities in every community in the country.

The recent congressional report is the result of a wide-ranging two-year research and information-gathering effort. Recommendations fall under five goals, which include:

  • Increasing Awareness of Family Caregivers to increase public understanding of the contributions caregivers make, including helping individuals self-identify as caregivers so that they can get the support they need.
  • Engaging Family Caregivers as Partners in Healthcare and Long-Term Services and Supports to better integrate family caregivers into healthcare processes and systems.
  • Improving Access to Services and Supports for Family Caregivers including counseling, respite care, peer support, training on common in-home medical tasks, and practical assistance like transportation. Also included is a recommendation for strengthening the paid caregiver workforce.
  • Supporting Financial and Workplace Security for Family Caregivers to decrease the impact family caregiving can have on the financial well-being and professional lives of caregivers.
  • Generating Research, Data, and Evidence-Informed Practices to help create policies and interventions that meaningfully help family caregivers.

Over 50 million people provide a broad range of assistance to support the health, quality of life, and independence of someone close to them each year, according to AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving. An estimated one in seven individuals are family caregivers, and more than two-thirds of people will need assistance with tasks as they age.

A critical strategy for addressing the breadth of challenges family caregivers face is to better integrate them into the care planning and delivery process carried out by professional care providers, including home health, hospice, and personal care agencies. Specific Council recommendations aligned with this strategy include improving and institutionalizing family caregiver assessments into the care planning process, increasing provider training to recognize and triage family caregiver needs, and ensuring that quality measurement structures do a better job of capturing family caregiver needs and challenges.

The Council’s recommendations are intended to serve as the foundation of the forthcoming National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers. The strategy will drive increased recognition and support for family caregivers by proposing specific actions that can be taken at the federal and state levels, by local communities, philanthropic organizations, and educational bodies, as well as healthcare and long-term services providers. The strategy will also provide a roadmap for the nation to strengthen its support and recognition of the critical role family caregivers of all ages play in healthcare and long-term support systems.

The Council was created by the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, which became law in January of 2018, and directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop a comprehensive national family caregiving strategy.