Increasing access to quality health care
When Rose Community Foundation started down the path toward Boomers Leading Change in Health in 2006, no one could have imagined how far it would go—much less what it would achieve—in just seven years. In 2006, the leading edge of the baby boom generation was just reaching their 60s. Many had well-funded retirement accounts and were exploring the possibility of early retirement. Asked how they planned to spend the next phase of their lives, half of adults age 55 and older in metro Denver, where the Foundation invests, said they expected to continue working full- or part-time, 75 percent said they would devote more time to volunteering, and two-thirds said they hoped to pursue opportunities to keep learning.
When asked to identify the single most important issue of concern to them at that time, individuals—regardless of gender, marital status, educational attainment, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, or any other demographic characteristic—named one subject more than any other: health care. Denver’s baby boomers worried not only about how health care affected them personally, but also how it was affecting the broader community.
Fast-forward seven years, and much has changed. Americans have weathered a major, protracted recession, with effects on retirement savings and the job market that are still being felt. Home values have declined and personal debt has increased. And health care reform promises to further change the financial landscape. Many people near or at retirement age have been forced to reconsider the next chapters of their lives. Some who once planned to devote more time to volunteer work, now need to keep or find paid employment out of financial necessity. As a means of adding deeper meaning to their lives, many are pursuing job opportunities that have greater purpose, such as work in education, civil service, and health care. The concept of the “encore career” is taking on greater significance.
With these many factors in mind, Rose Community Foundation created Boomers Leading Change in Health—a groundbreaking, grassroots initiative that is tapping the deep pool of talent, time, and energy of adults 50+. With support from The Atlantic Philanthropies’ Community Experience Partnership, as well as from several Colorado-based funders, Boomers Leading Change in Health was launched to achieve two goals: engage adults age 50 and older who want to learn more about and get involved in changing health care for the Denver community, and build the capacity of organizations to use boomers in existing programs that promote access to quality health care.
- Rose Community Foundation
- Denver Health Community Voices
- University of Colorado-Denver School of Public Health
- Colorado Consumer Health Initiative
- Central Colorado Area Health Education Center
- Serve Colorado
- JVA Consulting, LLC
- 20 host sites, including health care institutions and culturally specific community-based organizations
- Other regional and local funders, including Bright Mountain Foundation, Caring for Colorado, Colorado Health Foundation, Connect for Health, The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Colorado, and AmeriCorps host sites
- Denver, Colorado, metro area (seven counties)
- Total population = 2.9 million
- 50+ population = 869,000 (30%)
RESULTS (FIRST 3 YEARS)
- 31,000+ medically underserved individuals and families assisted
- 560 adults 50+ engaged through outreach and education efforts
- 186 adults 50+ trained and placed as volunteer patient navigators/community health workers
- 60 adults 50+ trained and placed as health care policy advocates
- 76 adults 55+ trained and placed as AmeriCorps Encore members
- $3.1 million in funding generated
- Barriers to care decreased and hospital readmission rates reduced
- Access to services and resources, primary care treatment, enrollment in insurance, health education outreach, and use of health screenings increased