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Naomi Kirschenbaum, the FCPP state contact person for California, submitted the following language to the California Republican Platform Committee via email on June 25, 2015.
To: California Republican Party Platform Committee (via email@example.com)
From: Naomi Kirschenbaum
I appreciate the opportunity to submit a suggestion for the platform of the California Republican Party. I have read the 2012 platform.
Consistent with the Republican commitment to strong family values, I urge that the party add language to the “Aging Californians” section of the platform recognizing the importance of home family caregiving for sick and frail elders. Supporting strong families helps keep frail elders in their homes longer, reducing expense and improving quality of life.
Finding the right level of detail for inclusion in the party platform must be determined by the Platform Committee. Here are some policy ideas the committee may wish to consider.
1. California must show fiscal responsibility in response to our aging population. The financial consequences threaten to overwhelm the California budget. California, and individual California counties should analyze their population demographic trends to determine both current and future service requirements for care recipients and caregivers, and understand the financial implications of coming demands.
2. We recognize the important role that businesses play in providing assistance to employees that are caring for an elderly family member. As appropriate, we support compensation of that value through tax credits or other means when firms provide or underwrite adult day care services or other supportive services. We encourage employers to establish policies that recognize the impact that caregiving can have on workers, and encourage employers to find ways to support their workers during difficult family times.
3. We recognize the personal and financial sacrifices of caregivers. We must find ways to address the financial burden of caregiving and work to protect families from impoverishment. This recommendation is in the sprit of the current California Republican Party “Aging Californians” plank, which seeks to protect our elders from economic hardship. We support recognizing the economic value of family caregiving and, as appropriate, compensation of that value through tax credits or other means.
4. Some family caregivers must drop out of the workforce in order to provide full-time care to a very ill loved one. These “care heroes” should be allowed to continue funding their own retirement and Social Security during their period of caring service. Every American should serve his or her country. Volunteer caregiving is as valid a means of service as any other.
5. Encourage the creation of volunteer “Caregiver Corps” to provide non-medical assistance and companionship to frail elders. Programs like these can be set up at little or no cost with no need for government involvement. Caregiving committees can be sponsored by faith-based organizations, private companies, non-profit organizations, and local communities. For example, a church or temple could have a caregiving committee for elders. A nursing home or health maintenance organization could set up its own pool of volunteers. A city could sponsor a volunteer program.
6. Medical records should include basic information about the family caregiving setting to ensure that family preferences are respected.
7. Home family caregivers must be able to get training and additional help when they need it. For example, at the time of discharge, the home family caregiving needs of the patient could be discussed with caregivers and arrangements could be made for caregiver training.
8. Increase awareness of caregiving as a health risk factor that warrants attention as a Public Health issue, and encourage health professionals to acknowledge and address that issue.
9. We support the use of home caregiving technology that enables elders to receive care in their own homes while lowering the cost of that care. Remote technology can benefit anyone and has special benefits for rural caregivers. Adoption of remote technology may require giving healthcare providers more flexibility in choosing their preferred methods of care.
10. Increase the availability of respite care services. Explore the use of volunteer respite providers through a variety of sources, inlcuding faith-based groups, nursing programs, and community organizations.
These suggestions are part of a more detailed policy review done by the Family Caregiver Platform Project (caregivercorps.org), a non-partisan national effort working to raise awareness of the important role families play in care for their frail elders.
California State Contact Person
Family Caregiver Platform Project