If anything, Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of community services that support and care for the aging generation. During the pandemic when the country went into lockdown, 211 helplines received increased requests for home-delivered meals, rent assistance, and food pantries from elders. These requests were three times more in comparison to the same time the previous year. There was also an increase in mental health challenges for those who were stressed and were socially isolated. Therefore, it has been critical for many healthcare and social care providers to meet the interrelated health and social needs of the aging population during the pandemic. As the acute hospital capacity scales up to care for people who become critically ill, there is a need for community-based services to scale up as well to help aging adults stay at home safely. AAAs (Area Agencies on Aging) are playing a critical role in supporting older adults at home. The Area Agencies on Aging are a fantastic support and coordination system with 622 agencies working tirelessly across the country that provides basic key services for the elderly in their communities. These services include home-delivered meals, health and disease management, social activities, and transportation. AAAs are there to meet the fundamental needs of the elderly who are living at home and want to continue to do so. With the spread of COVID-19, AAAs played an active role in fulfilling requests for meals at home for the elderly, requests for assistance and information, and in trying to reduce social isolation. AAAs also helped in freeing up capacity in hospitals and nursing homes by organizing home-based services and offering care transition programs (for home-eligible Medicaid beneficiaries).
How Important is AAA’s work?
AAAs have always worked towards developing innovative solutions and services to support older adults’ health and independence. Research shows that AAAs can drastically reduce avoidable healthcare use and spending in their service areas. When AAAs received funding to support their contribution in Livable Community initiatives (coalitions that promote health, well-being, and capacity to remain independent in communities), avoidable nursing home use was reduced to nearly 1% in AAA service area. Medicare spending fell to $136 per beneficiary in AAA service area when AAAs began to partner with hospitals. Similarly, when AAAs partnered with mental health organizations, avoidable nursing home use fell by 0.5%. With COVID-19 straining the hospitals in unpredictable ways, AAAs were needed to prevent the unnecessary use of healthcare urgently. In order to better understand the changing needs of older adults and the ability of AAAs to address them amidst the pandemic, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) has spoken to agency leaders from states with higher caseloads like Washington and California. It was found out that AAAs’ longstanding partnerships with various organizations in their respective cities and areas have helped in planning and adapting new methods of services. For example, congregate meals for older adults that enhanced nutrition and social engagement had to be changed into a scaled-up take-out format. When meals are delivered, wellness checks are also made. Some agencies had to plan and make decisions on whether to continue giving services to older adults receiving personal care assistance in their home so as not to risk exposing the older adults or the care workers’ to the virus through this interaction. Like numerous healthcare providers, AAAs began using telehealth and telephone to check on the clients and provide assessments.
What More Is Needed Now
Lack of workforce is one challenge that stands out in meeting the increased needs of older adults in their communities and homes. As AAAs begin to scale up, they need workforce more than even to provide assistance to homebound older adults and support them by providing services like home-delivered meals. Previously, retired volunteers did the job but they have been advised to stay at home to reduce the risk of infection to themselves. AAAs began to explore options like hiring college students or those who lost their jobs in the retail and hospitality industry. To fill the roles that required background checks, AAAs enlisted teachers who had off from schools. Apart from this, AAAs also require innovative solutions and technologies to support their internal processes and manage caseloads. Hucu.ai is a communication application built specifically for the healthcare sector that can help AAAs centralize communication and data collection, improve efficiency and support them in multiple ways. Here is how Innovative AAAs can use Hucu.ai:
AAAs Can Manage Consumer Risk In Real-Time.
Hucu.ai can help highlight risks for interventions that support maximum independence. Real-time acuity score is a feature that standardizes separate assessment scores allowing agencies to better manage their intensive caseload. Hucu.ai allows risk stratification visibility to all collaborators so that they can quickly highlight older adults at greater risk and prioritize their needs. The consumer journey map feature helps track the history of each individual adult and the services they have received. Hucu.ai is a data-driven solution that can pinpoint older adults most in need of service.
AAAs Can Improve Transparency And Oversight Among Team And Partners
Hucu.ai can provide network performance visibility to improve AAAs’ quality of service delivery network. AAAs can have greater accountability of results with Hucu.ai’s partner reporting capability. With reduced communication errors and improved HIPAA compliance, there will be greater trust among teams. Hucu.ai’s automatic push notifications and simplified messaging greatly reduce delays in communication between teams. AAAs can build tighter connections with skilled nursing facilities and hospital teams by planning, scheduling with them, and sharing relevant documents under HIPAA compliance very quickly. The ability to centralize communication and sharing reports can help AAAs track partner performance down to each employee level as well.
Reduce Employee Turnover and Increase Staff Satisfaction
Given the pandemic and difficulty in hiring new employees, AAAs can reduce employee turnover by providing easy communication and recognition for staff, partner employees, and volunteers via Hucu.ai. Hucu.ai is a super user-friendly application that can be set up in an organization in just a few minutes. Hucu.ai has a built-in feature that allows individuals who manage a greater load of challenging cases to gain visibility over teams.With these unprecedented challenges faced by AAAs and other health care providers during the time of COVID-19, it is critical to leverage technology to take off unnecessary workload and free up time and muscle to serve the older adults in a patient-centered way within their communities. Hucu.ai can help do exactly that.Hucu.ai hosted a 30-minute Zoom webinar on 9th September to discuss how technology can be leveraged to manage acuity and increase independence at a lower cost for organizations delivering Community Based Care. The objectives of the webinar were to share: best practices in providing proactive care through real-time acuity scoring, how to use data analytics to improve operations, how to streamline communication within internal teams, external partners, and with patients and families. The event’s speakers, Kathleen Gillespie, CEO at Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, and Ethen Tarner COO, Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging elaborated the objectives and shared their experience of being facilitated by Hucu.ai. Watch the complete webinar here.Info from: healthaffairs.org, academic.oup.com