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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: Johnson County Area Agency on Aging Provides Home-Based Mental Health Services

Learn how this Kansas AAA implemented in-home counseling services to older adults in need of mental health care by directly hiring a mental health employee on a contractual basis to provide services to AAA clients.

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 Johnson County Area Agency on Aging's In-Home Mental Health Services for Aging Clients program. The agency was a 2019 Aging Achievement Award winner in the Home and Community-Based Services category.
 
For several years Johnson County Area Agency on Aging had access to mental health specialists who could work with older adults in its community. When the mental health department eliminated these positions, the AAA established the In-Home Mental Health Services for Aging Clients program. The AAA hired one mental health employee to provide services on a contractual basis, which allowed an on-call specialist to provide in-home mental health counseling when clients are referred by an agency case manager. Chart reviews show measurable client improvement in affect, behavior and thought content. To date, no clients showed regression.
 
As a client ages, the AAA finds a need to provide mental health services in the home to reduce barriers of having to receive services at a health care office. The in-home service provides a niche service that the county mental health department is unable to provide. Clients appreciate the safe and familiar environment of their own home and reduced contact with stressful environments in the community. 
 
The counseling program has seen enough usage that a Request for Additional Resources has been submitted to the Johnson County Board of County Commissioners for extra funds for the next budget cycle. If successful, this would double the AAA's capacity to provide in-home mental health services to older adults in the community.
 
For AAAs seeking to replicate this program at their agencies, the Johnson County AAA recommends having dedicated funds for the program and to acquire a clinician who has worked in both the aging field and the mental health arena. As part of an Area Plan, funds can be allocated under OAA Titles III B and III E. The AAA recommends seeking mental health specialists who have experience working with older adults.
 
To learn more about Johnson County Area Agency on Aging's In-Home Mental Health Services for Aging Clients program, contact Dan Goodman, Director, Johnson County Area Agency on Aging, dan.goodman@jocogov.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! You can also listen to our four-part webinar series, n4a Lunchtime Innovations, to hear your peers' secrets to success for these award-winning programs.

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