Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation Announces Eight New Awards in the 2018 Hillman Emergent Innovation Program

Grants support nursing-driven innovation for vulnerable populations and include new focus on serious illness and end of life care

To jumpstart new solutions to health challenges facing vulnerable populations, the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation (RAHF) announced today that it will make eight awards totaling $400,000 to early-stage, nursing-driven projects through its Hillman Emergent Innovation Program. 

The Hillman Emergent Innovation Program seeks bold, early-stage (pre-evidence or untested) innovations that target health and health care problems for vulnerable populations including the economically disadvantaged, racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ people, the homeless, rural populations, and others. This year, for the first time, the program will expand to encompass the Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program and five of the eight grants awarded will support work in this important and permanent new focus area.

“Supporting early-stage innovation and removing barriers to more equitable, high-quality, and person-centered care are key priorities for us,” said Ahrin Mishan, Executive Director of the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “It is a privilege to be able to help nurture and develop these ideas, particularly in areas such as serious illness and end of life that precipitate some of the most serious challenges many of us will ever face.” 

The decision to create a stand-alone category within the Hillman Emergent Innovation Program is grounded in the belief that nursing plays a critical but underutilized role in improving serious illness and end of life care. This view of nursing as an untapped resource was reinforced by the quality and number of serious illness- and end of life-related proposals received in response to the foundation’s latest RFP.

“The 2018 Hillman call for Emergent Innovation projects brought to light a variety of new, creative innovations tailored to the seriously ill and dying,” said Rachael Watman, Vice President of Programs at the Rita & Alex Hillman Foundation. “By investing in these early-stage efforts, the Hillman Foundation can play a vital role in jumpstarting these nursing-driven programs and in doing so, accelerate progress in addressing the needs of vulnerable populations.”

Providing Support for New Ideas: the Hillman Emergent Innovation Program

The Hillman Emergent Innovation Program provides $50,000, one-year awards to accelerate the development of bold, new interventions targeting the needs of vulnerable populations. For 2018, it will fund the following three grants:

  • Turning Sick Care into Well Care for Homebound Older Adults and Their Pets
    Pets are highly valued companions and can be especially helpful in improving health outcomes in homebound elderly populations who may otherwise be isolated. POP (Pet Owner and Pet) Care creates an inter-professional team consisting of a nurse practitioner, a veterinarian, and a social worker to address the healthcare needs of homebound older adults and their pets. The expectation is that the improved health of the person-pet dyad will correlate with better health and well-being outcomes for the pet owner. Principal Investigator: Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, RN, CPNP/PMHNP, FAANP, FNAP, FAAN; Ohio State University.

  • Peer Mentoring Middle School Youth in Appalachia to Improve Lifestyle Behaviors and Health Outcomes
    Young people in rural Appalachia suffer from worse health outcomes and practice fewer positive health behaviors than their counterparts elsewhere in the U.S. Leveraging the power of peer group dynamics and social networking, this nurse-designed initiative trains 10th grade mentors to help guide middle school students towards lifelong healthy behaviors and improved health outcomes. Principal Investigator: Laureen Smith, PhD, RN, FAAN; Ohio State University.

  • Promoting Father-Son Health Communication and Healthy Sexual Behaviors Among Black Male Adolescents Through a Nurse-Driven Mobile App
    HIV infection rates among black males ages 13 to 17 account for more than half of all HIV infections in this age group and are eight times higher than those of white male youth. The proposed Cutting E.D.G.E (Empowering Dads to Guide and Educate) mobile app aims to help black fathers better communicate and promote healthy sexual behaviors to their sons. This initiative, the first of its kind, represents a bold first step towards addressing an overlooked health disparity. Principal Investigator: Schenita D. Randolph, PhD, MPH, RN, CNE; Duke University School of Nursing. 

The new Hillman Serious Illness and End of Life Emergent Innovation Program will support the following five projects in 2018:

  • Improving Palliative Care in the ICU for Black Populations: A Nurse-Led Approach
    This project will address care disparities at the end of life for black populations who often receive inferior health care and have greater unmet care needs. Using an experience-based co-design methodology, the project will collaborate with the African American communities being served to develop, implement, and evaluate a palliative care intervention in the intensive care unit to improve goals of care conversations and help patients transition back into the community. Principal Investigator: Rebecca Wright, PhD, BSc (Hons); Johns Hopkins University.

  • Advance Care Planning and Goals of Care for Unrepresented Older Prisoners
    This project will conduct a national survey in order to modify an advance directive for use in prison populations and identify best practices for medical decision-making among unrepresented incarcerated persons. The work will support prisoners’ autonomy and access to advance care planning, which is essential to allowing incarcerated individuals the right to die with dignity in an environment typified by lack of choice and control. This effort also aims to shift increasingly scarce prison healthcare resources toward care that is desired and away from services and procedures that are unwanted, futile, costly, and associated with suffering. Principal Investigator: John Song, MD, MPH, MAT; University of Minnesota.

  • Complicated Grief Group Therapy for Persons with Serious Persistent Mental Illness
    Unlike normal grief, complicated grief is characterized by maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that obstruct the difficult but natural progression of grief. Unresolved grief following a traumatic death is highly associated with complicated grief and both contributes to and sustains persistent mental illness in adulthood. This study will examine the efficacy, feasibility, and impact of community implementation of complicated grief therapy for low-income, uninsured persons with persistent mental illness. It is a partnership between the University of Utah and the community-based Polizzi Clinic and will use DNP nursing students as co-facilitators of the groups. Principal Investigator: Katherine Supiano, PhD, LCSW; University of Utah. 

  • Training Geriatric Nurse Practitioners to Provide Quality Primary Palliative Care in Nursing Homes
    More than 30 percent of older adults receive care in nursing homes in the last six months of life under the Medicare Skilled Nursing Facility benefit. These patients often receive care that is focused on rehabilitation and/or aggressive, disease-modifying therapies with minimal consideration for palliative-oriented care. This project will develop, implement, and evaluate a primary palliative care training program for Skilled Nursing Facility-based nurse practitioners to increase the number of advance directives completed and ultimately improve the quality of care received. Its design leverages an academic-practice partnership between the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing and Acts Retirement-Life Communities. Principal Investigators: Joan Carpenter, PhD, CRNP, ACHPN; University of Pennsylvania.

  • PALL-HEART, a Telehealth Palliative Care Pilot Project for Rural Heart Failure Patients
    Heart failure patients who live in rural areas are especially vulnerable to suffering and often experience barriers to specialized palliative care, symptom management, and physical activity programs that could improve symptoms and quality of life and decrease hospitalization rates. PALL-HEART is a tablet-based symptom management program for rural patients with heart failure that is delivered in the home. It will be developed and evaluated by a joint team from the University of Virginia, University of Kentucky, and the University of California, San Francisco. Principal Investigator: Jill Esquivel, PhD, AC/FNP-BC, FAHA; University of Virginia.

Applicants

The application process is currently closed. Please see the 2018 Request for Proposal (RFP) for details on eligibility and evaluation criteria. You can also download the RFP here. Please note that the schedule for the Hillman Emergent Innovation program runs on roughly the same timeline every year. 


2018 Hillman Emergent Innovation Schedule*

   

Request for Proposals (RFP) Announced

Mar 19

RAHF Grant Portal Opens

Mar 19

Applications due

Apr 30

Applicants invited for full proposal                             

Jun 11

Full proposals due

Jul 23

Awards announced

Sep 10

* Schedule is subject to change


Questions

For questions that have not been addressed on this webpage or in the Request for Proposal, please contact us at innovationsincare@rahf.org.