Nancy Ritchie, Council Member head shot; Council in Focus; National Family Caregivers MonthThe month of November is designated to honor and recognize the thousands of family caregivers across the country. Also, it is meant to raise awareness of family caregivers among policymakers, so they understand the heavy load that caregivers balance in their lives. This year’s theme is #CaregivingHappens.

For the PADDC, family caregiving and the support these caregivers deserve resonates as a theme in our current state plan and advocacy agenda. In Pennsylvania, a waiting list for services prevents individuals with disabilities from living an everyday life, including having a home of their choice with the help they need. More funding to eliminate the waiting list would alleviate reliance on family caregivers, many aging themselves, and help strengthen families.

One of our own Council members who embody the spirit of family caregiving is Nancy Richey. Through the years, she has been an invaluable part of our Council. From leading committees and workgroups to serving as our Chairperson, Nancy is a strenuous advocate for family caregivers. Her passion centers on her son, a young man with an intellectual disability, and she has also cared for aging parents. She deeply understands how caregiving happens in a planned way, but also when you didn’t see the need coming.

Fueled by her lived experience, Nancy Richey has contributed to elevating awareness of family caregivers and their needs. She led the development and roll out of Pennsylvania’s plan to join the National Community of Practice for Supporting Families throughout the Lifespan. Nancy worked on the PA Waiting List Campaign to raise awareness. At countless events and training sessions, she shared the family caregiver experience and what could help at a policy and community level.

Developments in Family Caregiving

The recent release of the 2022 National Strategy to Support Family Caregivers is a welcomed development for Nancy and the PADDC. The 2022 National Strategy outlines support for family caregivers of all ages, from youth to grandparents, regardless of where they live or what caregiving looks like for them and their loved ones. The five main goals proposed are:

  •  Increase awareness and outreach
  • Build partnerships and engagement with family caregivers
  • Strengthen services and supports
  • Ensure financial and workplace security
  • Expand data, research, and evidence-based practices

 Importantly, public comments are being accepted through November 30, 2022. Comments and feedback can be made online through the Administration for Community Living website. The complete documents and hundreds of action steps are also on the website.

Watch this informative video from the Administration On Community Living.