Encore Innovation Conversations: Encore Help for People with Dementia

People with dementia and their families often express the desire to continue to live at home. ReServe’s Dementia Care Coaching program taps the strengths of encore talent to support people in their daily lives – often, making a crucial difference. The project was the winner of a $5,000 prize at Encore.org’s Fast Pitch contest in San Francisco (watch here).

For the second “Innovation Conversation,” highlighting new encore ideas and best practices, I spoke with ReServe’s Director, Laura Traynor, to learn more.

BETSY WERLEY: Before we talk about the Dementia Care Coaching program, give us an overview of ReServe.

LAURA TRAYNOR: ReServe launched when the world was just waking up to baby boomers’ interest in working in later life and the encore concept. It offered a new way for people to connect with work that offers meaning and structure; we’re an organization with staff members – real human beings – who help individuals find the right match.

ReServists are people 55+ who want to use their skills to give back; they receive a minimum-wage stipend for their work. In addition to matches made by our staff, candidates can search our Opportunity Board portal. We also make the payroll piece easy for our clients.

We’ve proven that we can attract encore talent; our challenge is finding enough nonprofit and government roles for that talent pool. Ageism is still a big issue that limits opportunities for ReServists.

We just celebrated our 10th anniversary, and our statistics show our impact: 2,200 placements with 850 nonprofit and government partners, amounting to 2 million hours of service. Looking ahead, we’ve set lofty goals. In the next 10 years, we want to make 10,000 placements and we’re looking to expand beyond our East Coast footprint.

BW: How is ReServe scaling up its placements?

LT: We generate revenue based on hours worked, so the more people we place, the better. We’ve found that it’s easier to get funding for projects where we bring ReServists in as additional human capital. Two examples: We’ve had over 100 ReServists working as tutors in New York City middle schools, and we have sizable numbers of ReServists supporting truancy-prevention programs in New York City and south Florida.

BW: What’s the background on ReServe’s Dementia Dare Coaching program, before you brought the idea to Encore’s Fast Pitch competition?

LT: We started this pilot a year or so ago. Our goal was to match a growing need for person-centered dementia care in the community with a growing resource – experienced ReServists who want to make a diference. Our coaches work in the home to support people and their families who are struggling to live with dementia.

I have a background in health care and recognized an opportunity to build supportive, community-based resources through our talent pool at ReServe. We had a small grant from the Altman Foundation to build a health-impact project and the need for good dementia care is huge and growing. ReServe’s parent organization, FedCap, also was interested in developing ReServists as mentors for home health aides caring for people with dementia 24/7. (Fedcap operates a home health agency.) We were able to delve into our database of over 1,200 ReServists and recruit people with previous caregiving experience who wanted to help older adults. We trained them in person-centered care and now have 18 coaches working with a variety of clients – and making a real difference. As of February 2016, we’ve provided 23 people with coaches and signed a contract with a managed-care provider that will adopt our care coaching model.

Of course, we’re continuing to learn and enhance the program. We were recently awarded a grant from the AARP Foundation that will allow us to evaluate and package the model. We’re also looking at role for ReServe coaches to support older adults with dementia in low-income senior housing. The program leads, a retired nurse and a retired geriatrician, are also ReServists. That’s such a cool example of the value of encore talent. Why let all this talent go to waste?

Watch Laura’s full Fast Pitch video here

Learn more about ReServe here