This fall, The Family Resource Network, welcomed caregivers, providers, innovators, and technology enthusiasts to the 2018 National Caregivers Conference. The theme of the 2018 National Caregivers Conference was health, technology and the family caregiver, recognizing that both health and technology, if neglected, may create barriers for caregivers but if managed equitably may create opportunities and experiences that bridge gaps in care, resources and achieving ones own optimal quality of life. This theme was echoed throughout the conference with keynote presenter Sherri Snelling, Founder of caregiving.com, kicking off the conference and welcoming over 250 guests to Woodbridge, New Jersey. Among other speakers, the conference welcomed Connie Siskowski, RN, PhD, American Association of Caregiving Youth; Donna A. Meltzer, CEO of the National Association of Councils of Developmental Disabilities (NACDD); and C. Grace Whiting, J.D., President and CEO of National Alliance for Caregiving.
An array of breakout sessions highlighted the impact of health on caregiving and the role that new technologies and innovation have played in addressing factors such as loneliness, chronic disease self-management, stress management and resiliency. Additional conference highlights included the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the signing of the New Jersey Family Support Act during which the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities invited the families and advocates who were instrumental in the passage of this life changing policy. Attendees expressed their delight to participate in a “full day of learning and collaboration from inspirational leaders who are transforming the experience of caregivers”.
Pointing to the future of caregiving, the conference closed with the first Caregivers Shark Tank which featured shark tank presentations from Soundmind, Tech.Ur.Elders and Sociavi that were evaluated and judged by 3 sharks; Dr. Simbiat Adighije, Jeremy Grunin and Kevin Jones. Soundmind, a voice-enable technology for senior living and caregiving, which was founded by Andy Kropa and Erum Azeez Khan, was voted as the winner and was presented with the Caregiver Innovator of the Year award which they received on November 8th at the FRN Impact Awards.
Caregivers found the conference to be “therapeutic and cathartic as they thrived in an environment where others understood their journey and process, and vice versa”. The next National Caregivers Conference will be hosted in 2020. For more information, please visit, www.nationalcaregiversconference.org.