[The following post is by Marcus Escobedo, and was first published on the blog of the John A. Hartford Foundation. The foundation, which focuses on better health for older adults, has given me permission to repost this.
If you’re a family caregiver, this is a terrific opportunity to share your story in words, pictures, or even video. The deadline for submission is January 15th, 2015. The first prize is $3000, but all entries will help the foundation help YOU.]
Are you a family caregiver of an older adult or a health care provider who works with family caregivers? Have you seen the challenges of caregiving up close and discovered ways of overcoming them?
If you said yes, you have an important story to tell and we want you to share it.
Today, we launched our second annual John A. Hartford Foundation story contest, and this year our theme is “Better Caregiving, Better Lives: Real Life Strategies and Solutions.”
In honor of National Family Caregivers Month, we are seeking stories from both health care providers and family caregivers that illustrate how spouses and partners, children, friends, and other unpaid “family” members effectively and gracefully care for older adults who need assistance with daily activities or medical care. This could be due to illness, injury, or frailty, happen daily or from a distance, at home or in a care setting. We are especially interested in stories related to caregiving for older adults with dementia.
We hope our community of grantees and the families they serve will tell their stories in order to inspire others and shine a much-needed light on programs, services, and strategies that can help caregivers and their loved ones. From now until Jan. 15, 2015, we will accept written stories, video, and photo essays. And best yet, there are cash prizes, including a top prize of $3,000. (Visit our Story Contest page for full details).
So why a story contest? Well, we know storytelling is powerful. A good story sticks in your head and makes you want to pass it along. It changes the way you think. Throughout history and across cultures, people have used stories to create shared meaning out of human experiences, to change mindsets, and spur action and social change.
It’s important to note that how a story is told is as important as the story itself. In our contest, we definitely will be looking for compelling, dramatic, and relatively brief stories that pack a punch. Think tears, laughter, tugging on heartstrings … stories that bring to life the issues that family caregivers deal with every day in this country; stories that will move people to action.
We chose the topic of family caregiving because of its profound significance to our society and the health of older adults. There are more than 65 million people (or a third of the adult U.S. population) caring for someone who is ill, disabled, or aged, with the vast majority (44 million) caring for someone over age 50. More than 14 million people are caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia. Caregivers are spending an average of 20 hours a week providing care (much more for spouses and older caregivers), which—if paid for—would cost an estimated $450 billion each year.
We know from studies we’ve funded that nearly half of these caregivers of older adults are performing complex medical and nursing tasks such as wound care or managing medications, with little or no training. They feel greatly unprepared and often overburdened. Caregivers report poor health and negative impacts on their careers. (Visit the Family Caregiver Alliance for a sobering statistical overview.)
Despite the clear link between the health of caregivers and the well-being of those for whom they care, policies and current practice fail to support the incorporation of family caregivers in the care delivered to older adults.
We hope the stories submitted to our contest will support work we are engaged in to help family caregivers. We and other foundations have recently funded an Institute of Medicine report to give us a much needed road map for practice and policy change related to caregivers of older Americans. Our Hartford Change AGEnts Dementia Caregiving Network is currently working on projects to improve the lives of lives of caregivers as they go about the daily tasks of caring for a family member with dementia. And the Eldercare Workforce Alliancecontinues to advocate for well-supported family caregivers, as well as a better prepared paid workforce for older adults.
We know there are great caregiving stories out there from collections like those organized by the Family Caregiver Alliance and the Huffington Post. Our contest goal is to add stories that highlight specific programs and services, best practices and coping strategies, training, policies, and “homegrown” creative approaches that have improved the lives of caregivers and those for whom they care. We certainly do not want to sugar-coat or downplay the challenges faced by caregivers. But we want stories that will contribute to the public conversation regarding steps that lead to better caregiving and better lives.
As I mentioned earlier, stories may be submitted in written, video, or photo essay format. Here are the basic details of the contest:
- Written stories must be 1,200 words or less. Illustrations, graphics, and visual images in written submissions are encouraged, but not required.
- Videos must be 3 minutes or less.
- Photo essays must contain 6 or fewer photos, with captions of 200 words or less per photo.
Stories should be submitted electronically as file attachments or links to downloadable files to firstname.lastname@example.org with the words “Caregiving Story Contest” in the subject line. When you submit your entry, please include a note in your email telling us how you heard about the contest.
Multiple submissions by an individual are not allowed.
There are prizes for the top three entries, as determined by a panel of judges selected by the Hartford Foundation. First prize is $3,000. Second prize is $1,000, and third prize is $500.
Visit our Story Contest page for full details. And at the end of this post are some resources you might find helpful in crafting a great, compelling story.
Good luck to everyone who submits a story, and thank you to all Health AGEnda readers for spreading the word about this contest. We are confident that the stories you share will have the power to change the overall national conversation about family caregiving so that we improve caregivers’ lives as well as the lives of the older adults for whom they so valiantly and compassionately care.
Here are some general storytelling resources that may prove helpful in getting your creative juices flowing:
Winning the Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
The Art of Storytelling by John Walsh
Telling True Stories Edited by Mark Kramer and Wendy Call
The Story Factor by Annette Simmons
The Power of Personal Storytelling by Jack Maquire
The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling by Stephen Denning
Improving Your Storytelling by Doug Lipman