By Teri Willard, Communications Manager

Those in the complex care field know that making care more coordinated and person-centered offers immense value to not only the people receiving care, but also those providing care, and entire communities. At the same time, we know that traditionally the “value” of the work is defined by a program’s financial return on investment. With that in mind, how can we define, measure, and demonstrate the value of complex care work beyond the traditional measurement of reductions in cost and utilization? How can we translate our shared values of health justice and equity into sustainable work with financial and institutional support?

These questions will be the focus of Putting Care at the Center 2022, this year’s annual conference for the complex care field.

“Too often, the conversation about ‘value’ in complex care is limited to monetary value, but there are so many more ways to conceptualize value,” says Evelyne Kane, Program Manager for Community Engagement at the Camden Coalition. “When we lead with our values — things like equity, trust, justice, safety, and dignity — it opens the door to think about how to measure the impact and value of our work in these realms as well.”

Every year, Putting Care at the Center brings together hundreds of individuals from dozens of organizations across the country, all working to improve care for people with complex health and social needs. At this year’s conference, attendees will collaboratively address the theme of Values and value in complex care.

At the end of last year’s conference, we announced we would be bringing the complex care community back together in an in-person setting in 2022. After two long years of virtual team meetings and conventions, we look forward to seeing everyone in sunny Sacramento, CA! This year, we will host the conference at the SAFE Credit Union Convention Center from September 21-23 with plenty of pre-conference activities and content packed presentations.

“When I am in my house in front of my monitors, it is so easy to be distracted by the daily chaos of life and work,” says Carter Wilson, Director of the National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs. “There is so much innovation happening in complex care. Effectively sharing innovations, barriers, and big wins within our local work requires free-flowing discussions that are difficult to have in a virtual environment.”

We hope that this break from our daily grind — whether it’s in front of our computers, in hospitals or clinics, or meeting with program participants in their homes and communities — will help recharge the field.

 The conference agenda includes brilliant speakers from across the country, including our keynote speaker Jennie Chin Hansen.

“Jennie is an icon in the aging community,” says Mark Humowiecki, General Counsel and Sr. Director for National Initiatives. “She has been thinking about and developing whole-person care for decades, and knows how to collaborate with partners to get things done.”

Jennie’s early work in San Francisco, developing what would become the Program of All Inclusive Care to the Elderly (PACE) model pushed her to become a nationally recognized leader in geriatrics and complex care for older adults. She was a federal commissioner on Medicare policy and payment, president of AARP, and CEO of the American Geriatrics Society. She was also an early mentor and advisor to our National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs. “As a leader,” Mark says, “she epitomizes the servant leadership and collaboration that the Camden Coalition and our National Center stand for. We’re thrilled to feature her as keynote this year.”

We are also excited to partner with Storytellers for Change for a mainstage session featuring stories from complex care consumers and providers. “Storytelling is a vitally important practice that can facilitate empathy, understanding, connection, and healing,” says Evelyne. “Unfortunately, those of us in the non-profit and healthcare world often see stories told in inauthentic and disempowering ways that highlight problems rather than people and exploit lived experiences to support a specific narrative.”

During the storytelling session, we will hear from a diverse group of storytellers, including several of this year’s National Consumer Scholars as well as complex care providers and practitioners, as they demonstrate how storytelling can be approached from a strength-based, holistic, and humanistic point of view. We hope to create an intimate, honest, and uplifting experience to connect with and be inspired by members of our complex care community.

Choosing to hold this year’s conference in California was purposeful — at the beginning of the year, the state launched CalAIM, the largest at-scare complex care experiment in the country.

“The conference is coming nine months into the implementation of CalAIM, and we’re excited to hear how things are going,” says Mark. “We see this conference as a space for California stakeholders to come together to share what’s working and what’s not. And California organizations are seeing this conference as an opportunity for their teams to expand their skills by learning from peers from across the country.”

If you can’t make the journey to California, we are also offering a virtual experience that will give you a taste of the same thought-provoking content from the comfort of your home or workplace. This option features all mainstage sessions (keynote, plenaries, and fireside chats) as well as select workshop sessions, and is a fantastic way to stay engaged with the field.

“To me, this year’s conference is about accountability: about clearly stating our values and using them to evaluate our impact,” adds Carter. “Our theme of Values and value in complex care recognizes that complex care focuses on outcomes that matter to the individuals served and the communities they live in, including equity, well-being, and community integration.”