Caregiving in Colorado: An Overview of the Bell’s Recent Work

HB15-1233 created the Respite Care Task Force, an important catalyst in the expansion of supports for Colorado’s unpaid caregivers who provide uncompensated care to a loved one over the age of 18, most often an older adult or person with disabilities. Since their release in 2016, the Bell Policy Center has been proud to assist in ongoing efforts to implement task force recommendations and raise awareness about the growing need to support caregivers. Throughout the past three years, the Bell has worked with stakeholders to analyze and document:

  • Actionable steps stakeholders can take to address structural challenges related to the provision of respite throughout Colorado
  • The growing gap between available and needed caregivers for older adults, and the current lack of supports for these individuals
  • The financial benefit to the state of providing a comprehensive set of caregiver supports
  • A list of policy recommendations, with accompanying cost/benefit estimates, which should be adopted to support caregivers
  • Estimated costs and benefits to families, the state, businesses, and the health system of supplying caregivers with an adequate supply of respite
  • The immediate and possible long-term impacts of COVID-19 on the caregiving ecosystem

Thanks largely to ongoing state support, Colorado caregivers have also benefited from the Colorado Respite Coalition’s work to build a comprehensive training system for respite care workers, the expansion of a centralized site which allows caregivers to connect with available resources, and the development and implementation of a public outreach campaign about caregiving.

However, despite this good progress and the implementation of many task force recommendations, much work remains. Over the next decade, the need to support Colorado caregivers will only increase, and as this happens, policymakers should:

  • Recognize the long-term, generational value to families, businesses, and the state of investing in caregiver supports
  • Build on previous successes, lesson learned, and already-existent networks
  • Make necessary adaptations to meet the evolving needs of Colorado caregivers

Caregivers are essential, but often overlooked members of our community. As we look toward the future, creating meaningful supports that recognize the value and importance of their contributions will make our state healthier and stronger, benefiting all of us.

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