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Healthcare and Senior Caregiving Organizations Come Together in Santa Ynez Valley

 

Last month, representatives from healthcare and senior caregiving organizations serving the Santa Ynez Valley came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities that we can anticipate among the growing, aging population and those who love and care for them. Utilizing a tool kit created by the Institute for the Future, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, participants delved into scenarios depicting a caregiver’s life in 2031. The three scenarios raised issues including the role of technology in supporting caregivers and their loved ones, the implications of integrating informal caregiving with the formal health care system, and how social networks and community service incentives assist those elders without family caregivers.

“The Santa Barbara Foundation was excited to participate in the process for the creation of this toolkit,” said Phylene Wiggins, Senior Director of Community Investments. A convening was held in Palo Alto in June where funders and practitioners were able to review the scenarios and provide feedback that was integrated into the final phase of development. Wiggins shared, “I knew instinctively that I wanted to utilize the toolkit upon its completion to facilitate discussion among our partners in support of the Community Caregiving Initiative.”

Reacting to the inspirational spark raised after viewing each video scenario, representatives from eleven organizations broke into small groups to dive into specific questions such as:

  • If healthcare spending goes up to pay for caregivers of patients who are very frail, how likely is it that overall healthcare costs will go down?
  • If advanced technologies begin to play an important role in caregiving, what lessons can we learn from the digital divide of past decades about ensuring equity of access to these new tools, especially those who lack the resources or skills to use technology fully?
  • If you were given $10 million tomorrow to invest in technology development, community outreach and/or advocacy, where would you place your bets?

With the support of facilitator Judy Hawkins of Ruby Road Leadership, the substance of the small group conversations was shared during a broader dialogue about current alternatives and support for caregivers. “It was an enlightening discussion. On the one hand, I am excited to see the advancements that we could anticipate in the future in caring for our seniors. On the other hand, there are a number of improvements that can be made now to address the evolving needs in this field as we have more and more of our population aging,” expressed Chris Parker, Director of Atterdag Care Center in Solvang.

This convening represented a first attempt to bring these organizations together to learn and share from each other in a more meaningful way. As a result of the convening, the Santa Ynez Valley Senior Services Network is becoming more formalized and will be hosting a meeting on September 29 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Atterdag Care Center.

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