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Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovations Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington, winner in the Workforce Development category.

With an increasing population of older adults comes an increased need for geriatrics expertise from primary care providers and their teams. The Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington (AAADSW) collaborated with the Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center (NW GWEC) and Aging and Disability Services to design and implement a new Primary Care Liaison (PCL) role.
 
The PCL provides targeted outreach and ongoing support to health care providers in AAADSW's service area. The PCL also coordinates a AAA-based practicum, educating family medicine residency trainees on the Aging Network and best practices for connecting their patients to community resources.
 
The idea of a PCL was developed by NW GWEC to bridge the gap between clinical and community environments. AAADSW was invited to join NW GWEC through a Health Recovery Services Administration grant that began in 2015. The primary goal of the partnership is to integrate geriatrics into primary care through collaboration, education, traineeships, client engagement and clinical-community linkages. AAADSW has also partnered with local health care entities to develop a referral system that would allow it to easily connect patients to needed resources. The AAADSW program has substantially grown in its services and the volume of referrals. To create a similar program, the AAADSW recommends building partnerships with committed agencies and medical providers to bridge service gaps and establish a path to whole person and transformative health care.
 
The PCL referral form and standardized process have led to more than 3,000 referrals from health care providers. A AAA-based practicum has offered 60 four-hour mini internships enabling 35 physician trainees to shadow AAA staff. The number of referrals from the family medicine residency clinic has grown by 32 percent, a 39 percent increase in referrals from the 500 referrals the AAADSW reported earlier this year. Building relationships through outreach and follow-ups has ensured that AAADSW continues to provide excellent services to clients and remains an effective partner to members of the health care community. More recently, the AAADSW has been approached by health care organizations to implement new initiatives to effectively connect patients to community resources.
 
To learn more about this year's winners, read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community.

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