EmblemHealth, the New York-based health insurance and wellness company with an EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care office in Harlem, is leading a broad coalition of New York City based organizations to support the needs of family caregivers. The New York City Family Caregiving Coalition (NYCFCC) is also drawing New Yorkers’ attention to the one-in-five Americans who perform unpaid caregiving work to friends and family members.
To help caregivers learn about the resources available to them, and facilitate greater integration among caregiving support groups, EmblemHealth’s NYC Partnership for Family Caregiving Corps and the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service: Be the Evidence Project, sponsored “Family Caregiving: Name It; Know Its Many Faces,” at the New York Academy of Medicine on April 30.
Close to 300 medical professionals, social workers, clergy, family caregivers, students, city agency members and individuals from the public came together to hear presentations from nationally recognized experts and share their expertise with others in the caregiving community. Topics discussed included the lack of services available for family caregivers; the role of grassroots organizations in mobilizing caregivers to provide support to each other; and the legal steps caregivers and recipients should take.
“Caregivers are the backbone of the American health care system, and their importance and challenges grow every year,” said Gregory Johnson, director of EmblemHealth’s Care for the Family Caregiver initiative. “There are close to 66 million family caregivers around the United States who provide an estimated $450 billion in unpaid services. Close to 20 million of these family caregivers, six times the number of nurses in the entire country, perform nursing tasks. The three-legged stool of healthcare— the patient, the doctors and the family caregiver— were finally brought together to help the family caregiver stay the family caregiver.”
As a way to support families and family caregivers, Rebecca Summers of Intersections International underscored the importance of being aware of changes in your loved ones who may need caregiving and don’t recognize it. “In the Navy, good leaders are taught to ‘know your sailors.’ All of us should have this level of awareness about each other to recognize an emerging condition in someone else that will eventually require caregiving.”
Rev. Marion Gambardella, who leads a Caregiving Empowerment Group at EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care in Harlem said, “Family caregiving, no matter what shape or size your family is, can be one of the most challenging and most rewarding journeys in your life. We need to continue to bring together all the people necessary to keeping our family caregivers healthy, so that they can collectively help provide the safety net family caregivers need.”
EmblemHealth will also continue to offer information about resources and tips for caregivers at www.facebook.com/CareForTheFamilyCaregiver.
“Caregivers perform selfless work on behalf of their loved ones. The goal of Care for the Family Caregiver is to ensure that caregivers do not become care recipients. We look forward to working with them and their families through this journey,” Johnson concluded.
Photo Caption: Gregory Johnson, director of EmblemHealth’s Care for the Family Caregiver initiative accepts a letter of congratulation on behalf of the New York Academy of Medicine from Donna M. Corrado, Commissioner of the NYC Department for the Aging.