Community-Based Service Providers Are the Best Link to Help in Underserved Communities

Article excerpt

Underserved communities historically have few resources-fewer healthcare and ancillary service providers, and less access to transportation, food services and caregiver resources. In many instances, community-based services represent the only lifeline for older adults. With adequate supportive services, elders may not only live longer, healthier lives, but also maintain independence and avoid unnecessary visits to hospital emergency rooms.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to helping fund and implement such innovative community-based programs for vulnerable older adults.

Says Assistant Secretary of Aging Kathy Greenlee: "To begin to address the needs of these unique populations, the AOA has created technical assistance resource centers to assist the Aging Services Network in understanding and effectively serving these populations. Currently, AOA funds specialized resource centers to serve elders who are African American, Hispanic, Asian Pacific Islander, Native American, and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender."

The program offers an accepting environment where all LGBT elders feel a sense of safety.

Below we describe three such community-based programs, which HHS and the Aging Network hope will be replicated nationally in the near future.

Medication Management through California AltaMed

The Multi-purpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) of AltaMed Health Services in Southern California provides Latino, multiethnic and underserved older adult nursing home patients with comprehensive in-home professional nursing, social work and other clinically driven direct services under a Medicaid Home- and Community-Based Services waiver.

In California, 40 MSSP sites annually serve approximately 12,600 chronically ill, disabled older adults, saving California more than $55 million each year, providing everything from transportation to physician appointments to personal care services, home repairs, emergency response units, medication reconciliation and more.

From 2007 to 2010, AltaMed's MSSP conducted more than 1,500 medication reconciliation screenings, finding that the average client was taking 10 medications. With assistance from the consultant pharmacist's review, more than 400 patients were identified as taking potentially harmful medications. As a result, 33 percent of those problems were addressed through patient counseling, and 67 percent required review at the next patient visit.

Francisco Moreno, MSSP's care manager supervisor, says the medication management component of this program has been crucial in maintaining client independence. "With the majority of our clients being Latino, our culturally proficient staff has provided necessary services that have aided in keeping our elderly clients safely at home. Our Medication Management Intervention enables us to assist our clients in their homes by being able to screen all of their medications; even ones they may forget to take to their doctor visits when they have them."

LGBT Center a Safe Haven

Los Angeles has one of the country's largest older adult populations, and estimates of the city's older adult LGBT population range from 13,000 to 44,000. …