Sponsored by the National Alliance for Caregiving with support from MetLife Foundation, the awards recognized outstanding community agencies that support family caregivers providing assistance to older adults. Each of the winning organizations received prize money of $25,000.
FCA uses a wide range of technology?from online support groups and ?ask the expert? advice, to teleconference and video workshops, automated client records, and websites containing an extensive collection of caregiver-friendly publications?in its efforts to respond to the complex, multifaceted needs of family caregivers.
Executive Director Kathy Kelly was in Washington, DC to accept the award, where she commented on the agency?s tech-based services: ?In 2007, Family Caregiver Alliance will celebrate its 30-year anniversary. During our three decades of existence, the organization has re-invented itself numerous times, incorporating new information and data from what families tell us are issues, gleaning from the environment broad cultural shifts, and using that information to change directions and expand capacities. Organizationally, we encourage a culture of change.
?It is against this backdrop that we began to experiment with technology as a way to capture the collective experiences of families so we could use that information for advocacy and program development efforts, and to use the burgeoning field of consumer technologies to expand and reach caregivers at their own convenience.
?Our consumer-focused technology efforts?using the Internet, telephone and videoconference formats?are answers in part to what families were telling us: our caregiver population had changed to reflect more working adult children who needed information and support that came directly to them (as opposed to going to outside workshops and support groups), that caregivers in rural areas lacked access to specialists that could speak to their complex care situations, and that many families had difficulty finding respite for their loved ones so they could get to workshops and support groups in order to connect with other caregivers.
?Technology, therefore, became a way to better serve caregivers and we matched the technology to the challenges that faced families. Often, technology programs are solutions in search of problems. Our focus was just the opposite: what problems face caregivers and could technology offer possible solutions? While we are on the cusp of using more technology applications in long-term care and we will see many innovations in the near future, we also do not believe it to be the answer to all problems. And while we have used a wide variety of technology strategies to better serve families, the paradox is that you must first invest in people to be successful.
?Caregivers come from different situations and have different capacities. Technology is one way to provide access to high quality information, support and direct services to assist caregivers at their own convenience. We are grateful to the sponsors and judges of this competition for recognizing our efforts.?
Nearly 170 nonprofit agencies competed for the six national 2006 Family Caregiving Awards, which included categories for caregiver support, caregiver education, and technology. This year?s award winners also included: Eldercare Partners in West St. Paul, Minnesota; Mountain Empire Older Citizens, Inc. in Big Stone Gap, Virginia; The University of Wisconsin-Extension in Madison, Wisconsin; The Stroke of Hope Club, Inc. in North Palm Beach, Florida; The Alzheimer?s Association of Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties based in Los Angeles, California. Two programs were also given honorable mention awards: the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Alzheimer?s Association, in Columbia, Missouri, and Area Agency on Aging 1-B, in Southfield, Michigan.
For more information about FCA?s technology initiatives, please contact Kathleen Kelly at (800) 445-8106.
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