The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) Board of Trustees approved grants totaling up to $165,000, including grants to hold a series of community conversations in support of a master plan for senior services in western Pennsylvania, and to provide ongoing training and technical assistance to organizations that will serve seniors, veterans, and individuals with disabilities who are eligible for the commonwealth’s new Managed Long-Term Services and Supports program.
Connections: A Series of Community Conversations toward a Master Plan for Senior Services
Throughout its 25-year history, JHF has demonstrated a commitment to the physical, social, and emotional well-being of seniors. The Foundation has strengthened the continuum of senior care, expanded and trained the healthcare workforce, supported caregivers, and engaged families and communities in critical end-of-life conversations, among other efforts.
Today’s seniors are redefining what it means to age well. They expect to remain connected to their communities, with living options that accommodate their physical and financial status, and to have meaningful opportunities for recreational, educational, and cultural engagement. Unfortunately, for some seniors the aging process may be defined by the disruption of social and family ties and isolation, which is associated with poorer physical and cognitive health outcomes.
To meet the changing needs of seniors and fight the disease of isolation, JHF has approved a grant of up to $105,000 to hold a series of community planning exercises that will inform the development of a regional master plan for senior services. JHF will convene a series of three planning exercises with selected experts and champions to explore topics including increasing seniors’ mobility and recreational opportunities, supporting living options for seniors across all physical and economic demographics, leveraging technology, creating caregiver networks, and redesigning the healthcare system to be more responsive to seniors’ needs. Each session will leverage western Pennsylvania’s current service, human resources, and technological assets.
“Baby boomers are changing everything,” says Karen Wolf Feinstein, PhD, president and CEO of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. “They define their lives by their existing strengths and preferences – not by their deficits. We have to reboot in an era where serving seniors is totally different, and we are seeking public and private partnerships to create a new vision for senior living.”
The first planning exercise will center on building community-wide opportunities for seniors to exercise, including through the potential development of an application that centralizes existing resources and information about parks and trails, allows seniors to organize group activities, and promotes communication with physicians. The session will also highlight local models for senior engagement, including those being developed by the Southwestern PA Partnership for Aging (SWPPA) through a planning grant from JHF and other funders.
The second planning exercise will advance creative models for senior housing. In partnership with the Jewish Association on Aging (JAA), the Foundation will fund a national meeting to explore innovative design and financing models that respond to senior housing needs in the Jewish community, with and without supportive services and programming.
“There are seniors who are well, vulnerable, and frail, across all socioeconomic ranges,” Dr. Feinstein says. “We want to provide options to all of these groups, with the goal of maximizing connections, affordability, and independence.”
JHF’s third planning effort will focus on creating senior-friendly models of care. JHF will hold listening sessions with thought leaders and practitioners from primary care, behavioral health, social services, social work, pharmacy, dental, specialty and post-acute care, and community-based living. JHF will also solicit information from patients, families, and caregivers.
“Most traditional healthcare environments weren’t created to meet the special needs of aging patients,” Dr. Feinstein says. “We also recognize that there is a serious shortage of geriatricians to care for a growing senior population. We want to re-imagine the entire delivery system, looking at models that weave together medical, social, and behavioral health services, and harness new technologies and care team roles, such as community health workers.”
Preparing for the Transition to Managed Long-Term Services and Supports: Supporting Community Independence and Choice for Vulnerable Populations
On January 1, 2017, a new Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) program will launch in western Pennsylvania, delivering long-term services and supports to seniors and disabled individuals through capitated Medicaid managed care programs. In other states that have implemented MLTSS, eligible populations have often benefited from a more integrated care network that increases access to home-and-community-based services, which preserve independence while helping to prevent avoidable hospitalizations and institutionalizations that diminish quality of life and deplete budgets.
Western Pennsylvania, with its strong track record in outreach, enrollment, and network-building for the health insurance marketplace, was selected as the first to implement MLTSS (called Community HealthChoices, or CHC) in Pennsylvania. CHC will serve an estimated 450,000 individuals across the commonwealth.
To help ensure a smooth roll-out of MLTSS in western Pennsylvania, JHF and the United Way of Allegheny County have convened community planning sessions with more than 100 regional stakeholders, including those representing service providers, community organizations, and consumer advocacy groups. In April, the Foundation convened a day-long forum for managed care organizations to meet with potential MLTSS network participants, including those representing housing organizations, home care, durable medical equipment, skilled nursing, and other neighborhood-based groups.
To further ensure that seniors, veterans, and disabled individuals receive maximum benefit from the transition to MLTSS, the Foundation has approved grant of up to $60,000 to Community Catalyst to provide on-site training sessions, on-demand technical assistance, and consulting services to MLTSS stakeholders. Community Catalyst is a consumer advocacy organization which has been funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies to guide states across the U.S. in implementing MLTSS. JHF will look to leverage additional funds for the initiative from other philanthropic and government organizations.
“Increasing the accessibility and quality of home-and-community-based services is both an ethical and economic imperative,” Dr. Feinstein says. “Consumers overwhelmingly wish to remain in their homes and neighborhoods when possible, rather than defaulting to costly hospital and nursing home settings that diminish autonomy. Our region’s transition to MLTSS has the potential to help eligible consumers realize their goals – but only if we create a robust, responsive, and accountable network. The rest of the commonwealth is watching what happens in western Pennsylvania. We have no doubt that our region will rise to meet the challenge.”
In the spring of 2016, Community Catalyst will hold an interactive training session in Pittsburgh with advocacy groups, community and faith-based organizations, veterans groups, immigrant organizations, Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs), and individual beneficiaries. The session will focus on critical MLTSS planning issues, including ensuring a culturally-competent service provider network with oversight mechanisms, enhancing home-and-community-based options, and meaningfully engaging with the diverse group of consumers eligible for MLTSS. The in-person session will be followed by a series of webinars on topics including consumer protections, health equity, MLTSS service evaluation. Through the spring of 2018, Community Catalyst will provide JHF and partners with additional consulting services and technical assistance.
The Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) is a public charity that offers a unique blend of research, education, grantmaking, and program management to improve population health and the outcomes of care. JHF and its two operating arms, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative (PRHI) and Health Careers Futures (HCF) are located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and serve a national and global audience. JHF is also a founding member of the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement (NRHI). For more information, visit www.jhf.org.