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Virtual Expedition: Engaging Family Caregivers in Care Delivery

​​​​​​​​Family caregivers are instrumental in the care of people with chronic and disabling conditions. Family caregivers provide hands-on personal care, perform health management activities, and navigate health system demands. The availability and adequacy of support provided by family caregivers has important consequences for patients’ health and quality of life, the services they use, and the quality and costs of care they receive. However, family caregivers are not systematically identified in care delivery, and providers do not typically assess whether they have the requisite knowledge, understanding, or proficiency in the tasks they are expected to perform. Family caregivers describe learning how by trial and error — and being fearful of making a mistake that will cause harm. A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report found that current medical practice often compounds family caregivers’ problems by failing to include them in treatment decisions and care planning while assuming that they are willing and able to carry out the plan of care. 

Recent endeavors to promote high-value, safe, and efficient care afford new opportunities to rationalize and better support family caregivers in delivery processes. Diffusion of the health information technology raises the possibility of a more systematic capture of core information about family caregivers in the electronic health record. Availability of shared access to the provider-sponsored patient portal and other consumer-oriented health information technologies provides a mechanism for families and friends to interact with the health system on behalf of patients using their own identity credentials. The passage of the CARE Act in more than 30 states is motivating efforts to proactively ensure that family caregivers of hospitalized patients are afforded instruction pertaining to the post-hospital discharge plan of care. By participating in the Engaging Family Caregivers in Care Delivery Expedition, participants will learn about foundational principles in the support of family caregivers as well as approaches that are being successfully deployed by forward thinking, integrated health systems, and care delivery organizations.

This IHI Virtual Expedition is approved for a maximum of 5.5 continuing education credits  for physicians and pharmacists​.

 Content Editor ‭[1]‬


By the end of the Expedition, participants will: 

  • Understand the importance of identifying and assessing family caregivers
  • Recognize opportunities to leverage technology and health policy to better support family caregivers in care delivery processes
  • Learn practical tools and strategies to include family caregivers in managing care and discharge planning


Session 1: The Why and the How of Family Caregiver Assessment
Date: Wednesday, September 20, 2017,
Time: 12:00 – 1:30 PM ET

Session 2: Engaging Caregivers through HIT
Date: Wednesday, October 4, 2017,
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET

Session 3: Identification of Family Caregivers in the Electronic Health Record
Date: Wednesday, October 18, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET

Session 4: Leveraging the CARE Act to Better Support Family Caregivers
Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2017,
12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET

Session 5: Strategies to Engage Family Caregivers in Discharge Planning
Date: Wednesday, November 15, 2017, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM ET

Learn more about course Materials & Technology​.​​​

Lead Faculty

CatherineMather (2).jpgCatherine Arnold Mather, MA, joined the Institute for Healthcare Improvement in August 2011 and serves as a Director. In this role, Catherine works closely with internal IHI teams, external IHI faculty, and customers to design and ensure excellent delivery of programs aimed at improving health and health care outcomes. Specifically, Catherine has managed the overall execution of several of IHI’s public seminars and Collaboratives and works on forming new partnerships and developing new and innovative programming within IHI’s Person- and Family- Centered Care focus area. Prior to this, Catherine worked as a New Business Manager at IHI. In this role, Catherine facilitated the design and development of new partnerships, programs, and products in the North America region. Before joining IHI, Catherine served as a Communication Specialist on Health Dialog’s Consumer Segmentation and Engagement Strategies team where she was responsible for designing targeted member engagement strategies and award-winning communication materials. She also served as a pro bono graduate consultant to Children’s Hospital Boston’s Metabolism Program. Catherine earned a BA in American Studies from Boston University and an MA in Health Communication from Emerson College in collaboration with Tufts University School of Medicine. 

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Jennifer Wolff, PhD, is Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Wolff’s research primarily focuses on late-life family caregiving and innovative models of care for older adults with complex health needs. Her research has been continuously funded by federal agencies and private foundations. She currently leads two NIH-funded studies that seek to develop practical tools to more effectively identify and support family caregivers in care delivery. Dr. Wolff is a member of AcademyHealth, the American Society on Aging, and the Gerontological Society of America, and she recently served on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee on Family Caregiving for Older Adults.

Guest Faculty

Session 1

  • Lynn Friss Feinberg, MSW, Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP
  • Kathleen Kelly, MPA, Executive Director, Family Caregiver Alliance

Session 2

  • Rebecca Stametz, Senior Director, Clinical Innovation, Geisinger Health System, Institute for Advanced Application
  • Jamie Green, MD, MS, Associate Physician, Nephrology, Geisinger Health System
  • Christian Adonizio, MD, MLA, FACP, Medical Director, Oncology Innovation and Analytics, Geisinger Health System

Session 3

  • Alan B. Stevens, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Medicine and Director of the Center for Applied Research, Baylor Scott & White Hospital and Clinic
  • Carol Zernial, Vice President Community Relations & Executive Director Charitable Foundation, WellMed Medical Management

Session 4

  • Susan C. Reinhard, RN, PhD, FAAN, Senior Vice President and Director, AARP Public Policy Institute & Chief Strategist, Center to Champion Nursing in America

Session 5

  • Carol Levine, Director, Families and Health Care Project, United Hospital Fund