Transforming Caregiving Services

Lessons Learned From a Five-Year Initiative

“We elevated the conversation about caregiving, and today the conversation continues to expand.”
That’s how Maureen Kenney, manager of Wilder’s caregiving services, describes the beginning of what would become a comprehensive, multi-year initiative to change the way caregivers find and access support across the region.
In 2010, Wilder established caregiving services as a strategic priority, recognizing that caregivers are essential to support older adults in the community. This commitment was echoed by the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and other organizations that provided grant funding to fuel Wilder’s efforts to transform caregiver services. This provided a unique opportunity for the Wilder Foundation to use its combined expertise in direct services, community partnerships, research, and engagement strategies to test a variety of innovations in caregiver services and community-based supports for older adults.
Fast forward from the initial conversations about reshaping caregiving services to today: Wilder is a key partner in several cross-sector caregiving initiatives; millions of people have viewed caregiving awareness messages; and conversations about caregiving pop up everywhere from coffee shops to social networks to board rooms of Fortune 500 companies. Here are a few key accomplishments—and lessons learned—from Wilder’s work to transform caregiving services:

Increasing Awareness Was—and Still is—Necessary

Studies show that informal, unpaid caregivers account for more than 90% of care provided in Minnesota. However, less than 20% of these caregivers actually see themselves in a caregiving role. Wilder launched an awareness campaign to help caregivers understand that resources are available to support them. Since 2011, the awareness campaign has resulted in more than 100 million media impressions statewide, and thanks to partnerships with local organizations campaign messages are available in Spanish, Hmong, Khmer and Somali. More than 700 campaign toolkits have been distributed across the nation to spread the message that support is out there for people caring for a friend, neighbor or relative.

Caregiver Involvement is Critical

Caregiver involvement has been a key component of Wilder’s caregiving initiatives. Dozens of caregivers from all walks of life have volunteered their time to help guide Wilder’s work and the work of numerous partnerships. “We’re proud of the cross-sector partnerships we’ve helped developed, but we’re even more proud that we’ve worked alongside caregivers at every step along the way” says Maureen. Many caregivers stepped forward to offer their personal caregiving stories at the Minnesota State Capitol, helping to pass legislation that allows working caregivers to use sick leave to attend to their caregiving responsibilities. Former caregivers are reaching out to provide support to current caregivers through monthly phone support.

We’re Just Getting Started

As Wilder continues to engage caregivers, health care providers, community organizations and government agencies around caregiving, new opportunities for collaboration and innovation continue to emerge.
Wilder is currently working to expand a pilot program that helps clinic systems identify and refer caregivers to support services. Other upcoming initiatives include partnerships with businesses to understand how employers can support working caregivers, and arts programming that strengthens relationships among caregivers and care receivers. “So much of this work has been about listening. The more we listen, the more we learn that we’re just scratching the surface of what’s possible,” says Maureen. panel0106web.jpg
Guests listen to a panel of speakers at the August 2015 "Creating a Caring Community: A Celebration of Caregiving through Art, Word and Nature" event, held at Wilder's Community Center for Aging.

Be a Part of the Transformation

There are a number of ways you can help transform caregiving services:
  • Consider volunteering your time to support caregivers or to help expand our work
  • Share your experiences and perspectives as part of ongoing Caregiving Supports Listening Sessions
To learn more about these and other opportunities, contact us at 651-280-CARE (2273) or

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