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Professional Partners Supporting Family Caregivers - Phase II: Implementing Best Practices

AARP Public Policy Institute is leading and coordinating a new national three year initiative to improve the capacity of nurses and social workers to meet the needs of family caregivers.  This initiative is made possible by The John A. Hartford Foundation through the AARP Foundation.

Organizations supporting this effort include, the Family Caregiver Alliance, the National Association of Social Workers, U.S. Administration on Aging, the Lewin Group, and the Hilltop Institute.

The initiative focuses on implementation of lessons learned in Phase I – the State of the Science project which identified the knowledge and skills that nurses and social workers need to help family caregivers of older adults—and documented evidenced-based practices that can guide these professionals in their work.

The second phase of the initiative will implement best practices in the fields of nursing and social work; establish social work standards of practice to support caregivers; seek to improve public policies related to support of family caregivers and raise consumer expectations for caregiver support.

Implementing Best Practices

The project will implement high-priority best practices in the fields of social work and nursing that support the needs of family caregivers caring for older adults. It will build on a technical assistance system developed by the U.S. Administration on Aging (AoA) that is helping social workers and nurses in 20 states improve services and supports for older adults and younger persons with disabilities.

The project involves both an intensive strategy to build an effective prototype for better caregiver support and a broader sharing of best practices across states.

The intensive strategy will focus on developing best practices for nurses and social workers to increase caregiver skills through an AoA program at Aging and Disability Resource Centers in New Jersey. Based upon the program’s success, the AoA intends to promote replication of these practices nationwide.  The broader strategy involves sharing evidence based practices developed in New Jersey through programs in 20 states currently funded by the AoA for technical assistance.

Improving Professional Practices

In partnership with the National Association of Social Workers, the project will establish social work Standards of Practice addressing support for family caregivers across diverse health care settings. These standards are often incorporated in state licensure laws and regulations and used as a basis for policy decisions.  This effort complements the recent successful inclusion of family caregiving competencies for nurses adopted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Informing Public Policies

The project will provide critical information for development of public policies that support the needs of family caregivers and strengthen the role of the professional caregiver in meeting these needs.  Specifically, the project will conduct a survey of family caregivers to better understand what “nursing tasks” they perform; how they manage caregiving responsibilities; and what expectations they have for professional help. The project also will hold invitational conferences to analyze and recommend improvements for a range of public policies affecting support for caregiving, including a Payment Policies Invitational that will help find ways to better understand and communicate current payment policies.

Building Consumer Expectations

The project will seek to raise consumer expectations for caregiver support in order to drive demand for changes in both professional practices and public policies. This effort involves extensive public education on the benefits of caregiver support and policy considerations related to caregiving. It will also provide tools to help family caregivers communicate more effectively with health care professionals.

For More Information


Dr. Susan Reinhard, AARP Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute or Rita Choula, Program Manager, Strategic Initiatives at

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