As a state with one of the highest percentages of adults aged 85 and over in the country, Rhode Island is home to more than 130,000 care partners who are supporting loved ones in aging with dignity and purpose. The Rhode Island State Plan for Family Caregivers serves as the framework for the proposed development and implementation of new policies, as well as the expansion of various programs and partnerships. The Plan serves to strengthen and advance the shared mission of OHA and the Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island to promote choice, independence, empowerment, and the overall well-being of older adults, individuals with disabilities, and their caregivers.
“The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated many of the challenges faced by our older adults and their caregivers, particularly social isolation,” said Interim Director Michelle Szylin. “Caregivers have a tough job and often receive little support. Through the development of this State Plan, we’re showing our commitment to strengthening resources available for our caregivers and better supporting the important work they do across our state.”
The State Plan on Caregiving builds on the State’s existing efforts to meet the needs of Rhode Island caregivers of any age. The State Plan provides an overview of the support network available for family caregivers as well as addresses the work that remains to be done around ensuring equitable access to resources and advocacy. One of the key areas of support that the plan focuses on is developing a comprehensive website for The Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island (FCARI) that will serve as a hub of information for resources and information for caregivers.
“Caregiving has been and will always be a major part of the fabric of our society,” said Maryam Attarpour, Program Manager, Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island at the United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI). “In recent years, especially during this pandemic, we have all seen first-hand how family caregivers provide supports that are essential to the well-being of our community. We are thrilled to present this State Plan, which puts the needs of our family caregivers first. Our goal is to create a state that is equitable, inclusive, and supportive of our family caregivers, and the loved-ones they care for.”
As an advocate for caregivers throughout the state, The Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island at UWRI serves as the administrator of the Plan.
Through implementation of the plan, the Office of Healthy Aging and the Family Caregiver Alliance of Rhode Island will together:
Provide a voice for all Rhode Island Caregivers;
Establish a website and social media presence for the FCARI;
Ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion for Rhode Island Caregivers and those for whom they care;
Ensure that the caregivers of Rhode Island seeking long term services and supports are identified and provided with information assistance; and
Advance opportunities for digital access to better serve and support Rhode Island Caregivers.
“The COVID-19 public health emergency has highlighted historical and systemic inequities that impact our health and human services system,” said Rhode Island Executive Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones. “We must all commit ourselves to providing resources to caregivers of all ages, and their families, that are available in all communities and that are culturally appropriate.”
The Plan also emphasizes the importance of collaboration among caregivers, state officials and legislators, local organizations, healthcare providers, and families. The State Plan on Caregiving can be found: https://oha.ri.gov/resources/oha-resources.
This project was supported in part by grant number 90LRL10017, from the U.S. Administration for Community Living at the Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.