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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging

We're proud to highlight the award-winning work of the 2019 winners of n4a's Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week, we are focusing on the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging's Juniper—Your Health. Your Community program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Innovations Award winner in the Healthy Aging category.

Juniper is a network of all seven Minnesota Area Agencies on Aging as well as community organizations, health care organizations and volunteers. The concept of the Juniper Network was created by the Metropolitan AAA in order to maximize the opportunities for older adults in Minnesota to access evidence-based health promotion classes and maximize the effectiveness of the classes.
 
The Juniper program has allowed the Metropolitan AAA to reach a significantly greater number of older adults with classes that make improvements in their lives. Prior to Juniper, the AAAs in Minnesota provided evidence-based health promotion programs to approximately 2,000 people a year. During 2016-2018, the AAA served 16,018, or more than eight times the number previously served per year. Though this success has been celebrated, the team is not done yet. They know that long-term success of the program is dependent upon negotiating contracts with third-party payers such as health care plans that can provide ongoing and sustainable resources to support the classes.
 
In 2018, Innovations for Aging (MAAA's wholly owned nonprofit subsidiary) signed an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield that allowed Juniper to provide free classes to BCBS members who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. Expanding on this effort, the Metropolitan AAA team is in discussions with several other health plans about providing Juniper classes to their members. These partnerships build on the shared interests of helping people live healthier, more fulfilling lives while reducing healthcare costs.
 
A participant in Juniper's Diabetes Management course says that it was “the first class that really worked” for her, due, in part, to the small class size and interactive nature of the program. “In the past two months I've lost 17 pounds and I permanently changed how I eat.” Asked, if she would recommend the class to a friend? “Oh, yes. I'd tell them, ‘If you want to get better, you've got to do better.'”
 
To learn more about the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging's Juniper—Your Health. Your Community. program, contact the Mark Cullen, Director of Programs and Advocacy at mcullen@metroaging.org.
 
For more information about the 2019 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!

Join n4a and winners of 2019's Aging Innovations Awards for n4a Lunchtime Innovations, a four-part webinar series that will share secrets to success for these award-winning programs, including Metropolitan AAA. 

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