PITTSBURGH – The University of Pittsburgh Health Policy Institute recently launched the Center for Caregiving Research, Education and Policy – a unique resource that will bring together more than three decades of ongoing multidisciplinary research conducted at Pitt and UPMC. Researchers will focus on the impact of caregiving on family members both giving and receiving care, the development of strategies to enhance the positive effects of caregiving for providers and recipients, and the formulation of policies to support caregivers.
Pittsburgh has one of the oldest populations in the nation and an increased need for caregiving support. The Pitt Health Policy Institute and the University Center for Social and Urban Research (UCSUR) recently conducted a survey that found evidence of stress and health risk among family caregivers.
The center will address caregiving over the entire lifespan – a holistic approach that will set it apart from many other national research organizations that primarily focus on the elderly – as well as education, research and policy – whereas many national caregiving organizations focus only on one of the three.
The center will be directed by Richard Schulz, Ph.D., distinguished service professor, Pitt School of Medicine, who chaired the 2017 National Academy of Sciences Study of Family Caregiving for Older Adults, which published the “Families Caring for an Aging America” report that recommended the development of a national strategy to support family caregivers.
“We will begin on the local level, but eventually we want to expand our scope across the nation,” said Schulz. “Between the extensive expertise of our faculty and our strong partnership with UPMC, Pitt is in an ideal position to become a national leader in caregiving research and policy. We have a rich array of experts in childhood, midlife and late-life caregiving, plus a depth of experience in the research-based evidence needed to affect policy changes.”
The center will build on the existing Caregiver Project, launched in 2016, and provide information on caregiving; train professionals and family caregivers to be as effective as possible; institute support programs integrating caregivers into existing health care services, long-term services and support systems; and inform public policy on the role of caregivers in state and national health care regulations, including the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act, which has been signed into law in 36 states, including Pennsylvania.
“Research and implementation studies from the center will provide evidence to guide both practice and policy development on how best to support caregivers and fully integrate them into the health system. Our unique partnership with caregiving stakeholders, community providers and UPMC ensures that our findings are practical and can be applied to real-world settings” said Everette James, J.D., M.B.A., director of Pitt’s Health Policy Institute.
The Center for Caregiving Research, Education and Policy will provide resources for a variety of situations pertaining to caregiving. Information on caring for groups such as veterans, those suffering from substance use disorder, young adults with mental illnesses, adult children caring for older family members and children with chronic illnesses can be found through the center. The center also will focus on what happens when a person loses their care provider and how to structure ongoing care.
In addition to UPMC, the center will partner and collaborate with the AARP, the Alzheimer’s Association and The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, among other local and national organizations.