NEWARK, N.J. and TAMPA, Fla., April 5, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- To coincide with National Public Health Week, WellCare of New Jersey's HealthConnections Council and the city of Elizabeth announced today a new initiative designed to better support caregivers throughout Union County. The effort will kick off with 10 focus groups that will be held across the county to meet with caregivers and hear firsthand about their unmet needs to ensure newly developed resources fill critical gaps. WellCare of New Jersey is a subsidiary of WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG).
WellCare's HealthConnections Council, which supports the social safety net through collaboration with local social service agencies and community leaders, is focusing on Union County caregivers because there is a significant lack of resources and services available for those who care for aging or disabled loved ones. AARP and the Alliance for Caregiving's 2015 Report estimates there are more than 43.5 million Americans who served as caregivers in the past year – a number expected to grow as the population continues to age. In New Jersey alone, there are 1.4 million people who self-identify as caregivers.
"WellCare understands the importance of collaborating with community-based organizations to sustain the social safety net," said John Kirchner, president of WellCare of New Jersey. "The partnership between WellCare, the city of Elizabeth, and the agencies on the HealthConnections Council is designed to identify gaps in the social safety net, which will pinpoint the long-term solutions needed to better support Union County's caregivers."
Caregiver focus groups, which will be held from May to September 2016, are planned for Elizabeth, Rahway, Union, Plainfield, Linden, Roselle and Hillside. Additionally, focus groups will be held at two high schools to collect input from teenagers who act as caregivers for parents, and via a telephonic survey of a Mom 2 Mom support group for parents of disabled children.
"This week is a great opportunity to not only celebrate public health but also the professionals who work tirelessly behind the scenes," said Elizabeth Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. "With a theme of Healthiest Nation 2030, the City of Elizabeth will be hosting a series of events, where access to information and resources for improving overall health will be available. I would like to thank all of the partners dedicated to making these events happen, as well as WellCare for ensuring our neighborhood caregivers are recognized."
"Caregivers devote their time and focus to caring for others, but don't often take time to care for themselves," said Aviva Woog, WellCare of New Jersey's community advocacy manager and creator of New Jersey's HealthConnections Council. "This can exact a toll on both the caregivers and those they care for. This community initiative is designed to help ensure caregivers get the assistance they need to continue delivering the care and services so many New Jerseyans depend upon."
WellCare's HealthConnections Council includes representatives from Elizabeth Department of Health and Human Services, Elizabeth Office on Aging, Care 2 Caregivers, Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care, Caregivers of New Jersey, Family Support Center of New Jersey, Housing Authority of Elizabeth, United Way of Northern New Jersey, United Way of Greater Union County, Family Resource Network, Neighborhood Health Services Corporation, Gateway Family YMCA, Trinitas Regional Medical Center, and Community Access Unlimited.
For more information on WellCare's HealthConnections Council, or to participate in a caregiver focus group, email Aviva Woog at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of Dec. 31, 2015, WellCare serves approximately 54,000 Medicaid members, 1,000 Medicare Advantage members, 23,000 Medicare Prescription Drug Plan members, and 2,300 Managed Long Term Care Services and Supports members in New Jersey.
About WellCare Health Plans, Inc.
Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., WellCare Health Plans, Inc. (NYSE: WCG) focuses exclusively on providing government-sponsored managed care services, primarily through Medicaid, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans, to families, children, seniors and individuals with complex medical needs. WellCare serves approximately 3.8 million members nationwide as of Dec. 31, 2015. For more information about WellCare, please visit the company's website at www.wellcare.com or view the company's videos at https://www.youtube.com/user/WellCareHealthPlan.
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SOURCE WellCare Health Plans, Inc.