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Spotlight on Innovations and Achievements: 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 and Achievement Awards in this weekly spotlight feature. This week we're focusing on Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington's Caring Beyond Healthcare program. The agency was a 2018 AIA winner in the Health-LTSS Integration category.

The Caring Beyond Healthcare program (CBH) pays special attention to the impact the social determinants of health—safe and stable housing, healthy food and access to transportation and more—play in the lives of older adults in its community. Launched by the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington, the Caring Beyond Healthcare program enlists staff to screen patients who have been admitted at a local hospital who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid benefits. The screening involves a determination of the impact of the social determinants of health play in the lives of these patients. After the initial screening, patients are referred to the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington for the services they need.

The program began as a study of the impact that referrals to community-based health organizations have on health care costs. The Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington became the first subject of the study with the help of local hospital partner, Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center. The CBH program officially began making referrals in April of 2017.

For AAAs looking to implement a similar program, the CBH team recommends working closely with senior managers and hospital care management teams to fully communicate the importance of cross-sectional partnerships in transforming health care for older adults whose medical needs can be costly. They also encourage the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other health care payers to incentivize partnerships like the CBH project.

Building off the success of the CBH program, the team at the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington has been working with local Accountable Communities of Health and other local health care partners on a new effort to embed Aging and Disability Resource Specialists within health care facilities and to launch a community paramedicine program.

To learn more about the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest's Caring Beyond Healthcare program, contact David Kelly, Executive Director, at kellydw@dshs.wa.gov.
 
To learn more about last 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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