Several years ago, back in 2013, I heard about the hopes and plans for a government program that would mobilize volunteers to help older adults across the nation age at home. It’s finally here but has a long way to go to be a valid resource for many. It’s based on the idea of a domestic Peace Corps for caregiving, and the idea has been circulating for years.
The Administration for Community Living (ACL), part of the Department of Health and Human Services, is taking steps to establish a National Volunteer Care Corps. The program is based on the volunteer services of healthy retirees and young adults. They would take older adults to shop, run errands, go to the doctor, do light housekeeping, companion visits, and other light daily activities.
The Oasis Institute has been awarded the five-year grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) for $3,800,578 annually ($19.7 million over 5 years) to establish a National Volunteer Care Corps.
In partnership with the Caregiver Action Network (CAN), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4A) and Altarum’s Program to Improve Eldercare, The Oasis Institute will foster the development of innovative models in which volunteers assist family caregivers, older adults and/or people with disabilities with non-medical care in order to maintain their independence.
Oasis will serve as the administrator of the project, awarding grants to communities nationwide. “This is a unique opportunity for Oasis to embrace a new role on the national stage as a grant maker for innovative caregiving projects,” said Paul Weiss, president of The Oasis Institute. “As a pioneer in healthy aging for more than 35 years, we recognize caregiving as a challenge that impacts families in ways that can limit quality of life tremendously. We are excited to be partnering with some of the most knowledgeable organizations in this sector to encourage creative approaches that can improve the lives of those who find themselves in the position of providing ongoing care for loved ones.”
Project leaders will invite organizations across the country to submit proposals to serve “non-medical” needs of older adults and younger adults with disabilities. Then in the spring 2020, 30 organizations will get 18-month grants of $30,000 to $250,000, according to Juliet Simone, director of national health at the Oasis Institute.
The goal is to discover innovative, effective programs that offer services to diverse communities (geographic, racial and ethnic) and that can be replicated in multiple locations.
If you’re in need of care at home, you will have to wait awhile. It could take a long time to build it into a national effort that attracts more investment.
Carol Marak is an aging advocate and editor at Seniorcare.com. She holds a Certificate in Fundamentals of Gerontology from UC Davis, School of Gerontology.