Recently, Community Catalyst’s Voices for Better Health program released a new video featuring the story of a mother and daughter – Sally and Edna – whose lives have been dramatically improved in the last few years. These improvements came about after Sally enrolled in an integrated care system – Commonwealth Care Alliance – which provided her with care designed especially for frail older adults.

These models of care emerged from the hard work of geriatrics researchers and practitioners, many of whom have been supported over the past two decades by the John A. Hartford Foundation. This dynamic group of Hartford Foundation grantees, with expertise in geriatric medicine, nursing and social work, has developed an expanding knowledge base that is critical to how our health care system treats the growing number of older patients. Now the Hartford Foundation is putting this knowledge to work at the practice, delivery and policy levels. Recognizing that we desperately need health care institutions and systems that deliver better outcomes and manage costs effectively, the foundation has just launched the Change AGEnts Initiative. This initiative is an interdisciplinary effort to leverage the Foundation’s powerful network, help its scholars and grantees learn from and support one another, and work directly on changes in practice and service delivery that improve the health of older Americans. The Hartford Foundation has awarded a multi-year $5 million grant to the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) to launch and develop the Change AGEnts Initiative.

The Initiative will have two main components. First, the Change AGEnts community will provide Hartford Foundation scholars, fellows, mentors, advisors and grantees with support and training to mobilize for action. Second, the Change AGEnts networks – small, interdisciplinary groups – will focus on specific areas of vital health care concerns. The first two such networks are focused on caregiving for people with dementia, and patient-centered medical homes.

Community Catalyst’s Voices for Better Health program fits closely with the aims of the Change AGEnts Initiative, as the program is working to improve the lives of older adults with both Medicare and Medicaid, sometimes referred to as “dual eligibles.” A recent grant from the Hartford Foundation to Voices for Better Health enables us to mobilize geriatrics health care leaders who will work closely with consumer advocates, shaping the development of new integrated care systems serving dual eligibles and infusing them with geriatrics know-how and best practices. The diverse and expert group of professionals joining the Change AGEnts Initiative is ready-made for this work, and we look forward to working with many of them in the months and years to come.

Congratulations to the good folks at the Hartford Foundation on the launch of this exciting new initiative. We are proud to be adding our “Voices” to the mission of the Change AGEnts!