Rosalynn Carter Institute, Johnson & Johnson ‘Bring Caregiver Programs to Your Community’ with 24th Annual Summit

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Johnson & Johnson, again, plays pivotal role in helping Georgia Southwestern State University's Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving bring together agencies from across the nation to share perspectives and issues related to remedying the caregiving crisis.

In October, the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (RCI), sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, hosted its 24th annual national summit at its home on Georgia Southwestern State University’s campus in Americus, Ga.

Lead by the theme “Using What Works: Bringing Effective Caregiver Programs to Your Community,” the summit provided agencies from across the U.S. and the globe – over 200 participants in all – with practical knowledge on how to deliver effective support programs to caregivers.

“The presentations by our government officials and researchers affirm the critical need to address the caregiving crisis now and pledge support to family caregivers across the nation,” said Leisa Easom, Ph.D., RCI executive director.

As the primary sponsor, Johnson & Johnson is dedicated to supporting family caregivers across the nation, particularly through their partnership with the RCI, since 2001. This valued partnership is built on the work accomplished by the RCI which was established 24 years ago.

“This conference is an emerging national and international platform for a diverse group of researchers, community organizations and political appointees with a common interest in long-term care to convene and share their individual perspectives,” said Rick A. Martinez, M.D., director of corporate contributions at Johnson & Johnson. “What’s remarkable to me is how much more we know today about stress and caregiving than we did 20 years ago. The nation has invested in years of research that informs how to minimize that stress and improve the lives of individuals and families that have to manage long-term care needs in their homes for their loved ones. Now is time for the nation to accelerate the transfer of that information into communities so that those families can benefit.”

Martinez was on hand during the summit to present the Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award - given to Rush University Medical Center’s Community Caregiving Outcomes Alliance.

As a part of its mission, the Rosalynn Carter Institute establishes local, state and national partnerships committed to building quality long-term, home and community-based services. U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis; Carolyn W. Colvin, deputy commissioner of the Social Security Administration; and Kathleen Sebelius, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – three of the nation’s leading policy-makers – spoke at the summit, lent their support and offered words of encouragement (Sebelius spoke by video).

“For nearly a quarter-century, you've (RCI) been the voice, the mind and the collective conscience of the caregiving community,” Solis said during her presentation. “And you're truly a community: working together, studying, collaborating and finding solutions to meet the great challenge of our long-term care system.”

“Our system is buckling,” Solis continued. “I know the caregiving crisis is very real. Six million seniors need daily assistance to live outside of a nursing home – and that number will double by the year 2030. The shortage of qualified, well-paid professionals is one reason why four in five seniors who need daily care get it from loving members of their family.”

The Social Security Administration is another important ally of the RCI. Social Security is the major source of income for older Americans. In 2011, $727 billion in Social Security benefits will be distributed. Many family caregivers depend heavily on those funds.

“It is important for caregivers to understand what a difference Social Security can make to a family’s financial well-being,” said Colvin. “Our retirement, disability and survivor’s benefits, along with supplemental security income payments, help people of all ages. To learn more about our programs, please visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov. "

During the summit’s signature event, the annual awards gala, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter presented awards for Georgia Paraprofessional to Beulah Jackson of Americus, Ga.; Volunteer Caregiver of the Year to Joy Elder of Watkinsville, Ga.; Family Caregiver of the Year to Genevieve Embury of Waycross, Ga.; and an award with her namesake, the Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiver Award – the highest award given in the caregiving field – to Rush Medical Center in Chicago, Ill.

“The Rosalynn Carter Institute is appreciative of Johnson & Johnson’s generous support,” Easom added. “It has enabled the RCI to host this outstanding summit and to bring new programs to support family caregivers to communities all across the country.”

Georgia Southwestern's Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving was created in 1987 in honor of former First Lady and GSW alumna Rosalynn Carter. Through research, education and training, the RCI promotes the mental health and well being of individuals, families and professional caregivers; encourages effective caregiving practices; builds public awareness of caregiving needs; and advances public and social policies that enhance caring communities.

For information about RCI programs or initiatives, please call (229) 928-1234 or visit http://www.rosalynncarter.org.

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Stephen Snyder
Georgia Southwestern State University
(229) 931-2037
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