The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI) today submitted recommendations to President-Elect Joe Biden’s transition team and his COVID-19 Task Force, encouraging the incoming administration to make the health and well-being of caregivers a public health priority, and in pandemic response, in particular.
“President-elect Biden recognized the importance of caregivers during his campaign and now we are excited to see his commitment turn into action,” said. Dr. Jennifer Olsen, Executive Director of RCI. “Without robust strategies and systems to support America’s already vulnerable informal caregiver community, they remain at great risk, with long-term repercussions for our nation’s health, economy, and stability.”
RCI advocates for more than 53 million unpaid family caregivers across America and urged the new administration to prioritize caregivers as they outline a comprehensive strategy to rebuild an economy and health care system deeply impacted by COVID-19. This is the latest in a series of legislative advocacy efforts from RCI, including a letter to Congressional leaders about COVID relief packages, and efforts to inform response to the pandemic from Governor Brian Kemp in the organization’s home state of Georgia.
Building upon the RAISE Family Caregivers Act, signed into law by President Trump in January 2018, RCI is hopeful that President-Elect Biden’s plan for caregiving will yield meaningful policy changes in the new year.
“Our founder, Mrs. Rosalynn Carter, wrote to all the presidential candidates more than a year ago, urging them to recognize and elevate the experiences of caregivers. It was exciting to see President-Elect Biden release a detailed plan around caregivers, and we hope to seize upon that promise and build momentum of behalf of caregivers everywhere,” Olsen said. “It is time to change the conversation around caregiving and take a comprehensive public health approach to caregiver health and well-being.”
The critical need for that public health approach is outlined in a seminal report, Recalibrating for Caregivers: Recognizing the Public Health Challenge, which was released in late October. This approach to understanding shifting demographics, economic impact, and caregiver physical and mental health calls for better research and corresponding understanding of how caregiving status affects the nation at-large.
The report builds upon a recent survey of more than 400 caregivers across 46 states. Caregivers in Crisisclearly demonstrates the unique burden on caregivers during the current pandemic, with the vast majority – 83 percent – experiencing increased stress since March.
While there are long-term, systemic changes needed to help caregivers, including breaking down siloes across health care, government, and business to create a more supportive infrastructure, RCI also stressed to the transition team that there are urgent COVID-19 related needs, such as increased study, emergency paid leave, further investment in telehealth, and financial security.
To learn more about RCI’s advocacy work, visit www.rosalynncarter.org.