Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Honors Riverside with 2018 RCI Leadership in Caregiving Award
From left to right: Kim Weitzenhofer, MPH, LNHA, Director, Community Relations, Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Christine J. Jensen, PhD, Master Trainer, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Director, Health Services Research at Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; and Jennifer Olsen, PhD, Executive Director of Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving. Photo credit: David Parks Photography.

Newport News, Va. – At her annual summit in Georgia, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter presented the Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH) with the 2018 Rosalynn Carter Leadership in Caregiving Award, Riverside Health System announced today.

Named in honor of a great humanitarian, it is the highest honor in the caregiving field and includes a $15,000 cash prize donated by Johnson & Johnson.

Award recipients, among other notable achievements, must have demonstrated excellence in their work to educate the public about the critical role family caregivers play in the nation’s long-term health care system; ensure caregivers receive evidence-based, effective support services that target identified needs; support the transition of evidence-based caregiver programs into community settings; and provide leadership for coordination of efforts to support family caregivers.

“Riverside’s mission of caring for others as we would care for those we love includes caring for the caregivers in our community,” said Nancy Littlefield, DNP, Riverside Executive Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer. “We’re extremely proud of our Riverside-led CEALH team for their ongoing work in supporting the truly remarkable family and friend caregivers out there, performing complex tasks with few resources, full-time jobs, and often little training.”

The impact of caregivers’ work is real and measurable, Littlefield said. Alzheimer’s Association studies show that in 2017 alone an estimated 462,000 caregivers provided 526 million hours of unpaid care – valued at $6.6 billion – to loved ones living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Founded in 2002 in Williamsburg, Va. and fully integrated into the Riverside Health System in 2012, CEALH works to build extensive programming to meet the health care needs of older adults and their family and professional caregivers.

“There are some truly remarkable family caregivers out there, performing complex tasks – some quite medical in nature – with little training,” said Rick Jackson, Riverside CEALH’s Executive Director. “We have to lift our family caregivers up, shore them up with evidence-based programs and convenient educational opportunities that empower them to keep doing what they’re doing.”

CEALH’s award nomination packet included a letter of support from U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and highlighted numerous programs and achievements:

  • Bringing the “Caring For You, Caring For Me” education and support program to Virginia for the first time in 2009 and has since trained nearly 400 caregivers
  • Launch of Dealing with Dementia workshops
  • Development of a “Dynamics in Caregiving” course for Virginia Commonwealth University graduate students in the Department of Gerontology
  • Participation in the 2016 PBS documentary “Alzheimer’s: The Caregiver’s Perspective”
  • Service of families in the CEALH Geriatric Assessment Clinic
  • Counseling through the FAMILIES Caregiver Intervention Program
  • Coaching of caregivers of military veterans in partnership with the Virginia Veteran and Family Support Program
  • Development and implementation of a new way of delivering training and professional development to area nursing home staff through micro-learning programs
  • Development and continued hosting of the award-winning Memory Café in Williamsburg

“We are proud of our team and humbled by this remarkable recognition,” said Ed Heckler, Vice President of Riverside’s Lifelong Health and Aging Related Services division. “Our team members are truly exceptional, and the programs offered by Riverside CEALH are an amazing resource to our communities.”

CEALH led the proposal in Riverside’s recent award of a nearly $1 million federal grant to enhance dementia care and wellness across the region. In addition to launching new programs that will allow more older adults living with dementia to access memory clinics and physical wellness programs to enhance their quality of life, the grant provides funding to continue training the family and professional caregivers who provide the majority of support for patients as their disease progresses.

Riverside Representatives Honored at RCI Summit with Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and Former President Jimmy Carter
From left to right: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter; Christine J. Jensen, PhD, Master Trainer, Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and Director, Health Services Research at Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; Kim Weitzenhofer, MPH, LNHA, Director, Community Relations, Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health; Former President Jimmy Carter. Photo credit: David Parks Photography.

With the grant, among many other objectives, Riverside plans to translate its well-known “Caring for You, Caring for Me” seminar series into ten micro-learning lessons delivered online and tailored for use by family caregivers. The program is endorsed by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and has earned best practices awards from professional organizations.

“We appreciate that family caregivers have become the backbone of our health care system, and we are committed to learning more and advocating for the needs of all caregivers,” said Christine Jensen, Ph.D., Director of Health Services Research for Riverside CEALH and a Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving Master Trainer. Jensen accepted the award on behalf of Riverside CEALH. “Doing well by family caregivers is what Mrs. Carter has taught us. After all, she reminds us that we are all impacted by caregiving, whether we will provide or receive care.

Support Caregivers Through the Riverside Foundation

The Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health, like all of Riverside Health System, is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization and all contributions are tax deductible. To support CEALH’s programs, services and philosophy to care for caregivers throughout the region, please contact the Riverside Foundation at 757-234-8740. Programs like the “Caring For You, Caring For Me” workshop are offered to the community thanks to grants and private donors. Donations can also be made online at www.riversideonline.com/cealh/support/donate.cfm.

Published: November 13, 2018