Thursday, November 18, 2010

Society Participates in AoA Caregiving Celebration

On November 17th, the Society joined the U.S. Administration on Aging to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the National Family Caregiver Support Program (NFCSP) and to launch 2011 as the Year of the Family Caregiver. Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius attended the event to highlight the growing importance of caregivers in the upcoming years and ways in which current HHS programs such as NFCSP and the Lifespan Respite Care Program support family caregivers.  The NFCSP provides grants to states to fund a range of supports that assist family and informal caregivers to care for their loved ones at home for as long as possible. Former Assistant Secretary for Aging Jeanette Takamura under whose leadership NFCSP was established in 2000 attended to discuss the evolution of the successful program and to share her family's personal experiences with caregiving.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
A 2010 priority for the Society, the Lifespan Respite Care program provides competitive grants to states to establish or enhance statewide lifespan respite programs, improve coordination, and improve respite access and quality. Lifespan Respite is a particularly valuable program to those living with MS and to their family caregivers because while many other respite programs target the aging population, Lifespan Respite serves regardless of age or disability. While the program has been underfunded since its inception, twenty-four states have received funding to begin building infrastructure. Funding levels for Fiscal Year 2011 are still being determined.

Several national organizations including the National Alliance for Caregiving, the National Family Caregivers Association, the Family Caregiver Alliance, Generations United, and the National MS Society partnered with AoA and at the event, shared various perspectives on caregiving and caregiving policy. National MS Society Associate Vice President of Programs, Services and Clinical Activities Debra Frankel spoke on a panel and discussed the unique issues that people living with MS and their caregivers face.

National MS Society's Debra Frankel Discusses the Unique Experiences of People Living with MS
Current Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee closed the event by recalling several of the dedicated, compassionate family caregivers she has been fortunate to meet over the years and reaffirming AoA's commitment to these vital programs and to 2011 as the Year of the Family Caregiver.

Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee with National MS Society President & CEO Joyce Nelson

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