The North Carolina General Assembly kicked off their 2021-2022 legislative session in January. COVID-19 took a dominant focus early on, as needs for personal protective equipment, mask usage, and vaccinations took a prominent position in policy work impacting seniors, and families with a loved one in long term care communities. The Alzheimer’s Association provided needed updates and recommendations to legislators on COVID-19 safety and visitation policies in long-term communities. In March 2021, Alzheimer’s Association advocates had a first — a State Advocacy Day conducted via zoom from their homes. Undaunted, 60 advocates shared personal stories, and eloquently stressed the need for dementia-specific training for all who work with individuals living with Alzheimer’s, and the need to continue to fund public health initiatives on early detection and diagnosis, especially in rural and minority communities. Nine North Carolina General Assembly members from the house and the senate attended our event and were very receptive to our ask and concerns Adult respite care needs, specifically Project CARE (Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty), were also discussed, as we recommended additional funding, and grant opportunities for families. To find more information about these state-level priorities, including our State Alzheimer’s Plan, please visit our state’s advocacy page.
The 2021-2022 session is still ongoing at the end of July, and several bills including House Bill 914 which involves supporting the direct care workforce, House Bill 731 which increases capacity for adult day care consistency, and House Bill 777 which addresses the budgetary increase requests involving respite care, are all still in play We are also updating the legislature in 2022 on the State Alzheimer’s Disease Plan, and the continued development of North Carolina’s BOLD grant, which increases and builds the public health infrastructure devoted to issues involving Alzheimer’s and other diseases that cause cognitive decline. We look forward to the legislative short session next year, as our advocates with again take up the issue of increasing dementia training for direct care workers, and the need for solidification of the State Alzheimer’s plan.
INTERESTED IN JOINING IN OUR ADVOCACY EFFORTS BUT ARE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO BEGIN?
As we begin our work to prepare for the 2022 legislative session at the state-level, and with our efforts to engage our federal Members of Congress in full swing, now is the perfect time to learn more about what you can do to get involved. Join volunteers in our region on August 12 to learn more about what you can do to advance public policy that will improve the lives of Americans impacted by dementia. No prior experience is required!
ALREADY SET ON JUMPING INTO STATE ADVOCACY?
Champions are advocates who engage with legislators right here in their home state of North Carolina focusing on the issues that effect the lives of their communities. These advocates are trained on the basics of advocacy engagement, the legislative process, and how to share their story with their elected officials. This role is currently virtual, but will include in-person visits again in the future.