Providing additional community-based supports for older adults with complex needs can have a noticeable impact on quality-of-life, according to preliminary data from a recent Home Care pilot.
The Community Living Coaches pilot was launched by the Mass Home Care Association and Executive Office of Elder Affairs (EOEA) in September of 2016, to measure the efficacy of providing additional supports to elder services recipients that required a higher level of assistance to remain in the community.
Results of that pilot are being studied by UMass Boston. Speaking at the annual Mass Home Care conference in October, University Graduate Program Director of Management of Aging Services Ellen Birchander, said exit surveys indicate the pilot helped participants feel more comfortable at home, while reducing feelings of isolation and worry. While she cautioned the data is far from complete, she said the pilot showed great promise for improved quality of life.
“When you look at the positive client satisfaction survey results for the people who participated in the pilots– it’s heartwarming to see what can be accomplished when people who really care can actually get in there, roll up their sleeves, and help,” said Birchander.
The pilot studied progress of 50 clients at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) and Coastline Elderly Services, along with another 50 clients in control groups.
The SCES version of the pilot focused on benefits of giving the Community Living Coach a smaller caseload—25, instead of the usual 90 to 100.
Speaking at the conference, SCES Community Living Coach Kaylin Congdon outlined a case study of a 72-year-old client who was a cancer survivor, but also had issues with self-neglect. The client was sleeping on a deflated air mattress when they met, but Congdon said they turned that and other situations around by working together through weekly meetings over the course of a year.
“He looks a lot better and sounds a lot happier than the person I met last year,” said Congdon. “It’s made me very happy to see the changes in him.”
While the pilot has since ended, SCES Home Care Director Rachel Berry said it provided valuable perspective.
“I already knew it on some level, but it really showed how limited case management is, when you sometimes are only seeing someone in person twice a year,” said Berry. “Hearing about some of the things Kaylin was able to do, it’s just amazing to think of all of the things we could be doing if we had more time to spend with clients.”
Birchander agreed there were many valuable lessons from the pilot, and was optimistic the findings would resonate with EOEA.
“They want learning outcomes—an understanding of the kind of things we could do in a cost-effective manner. There is a lot of positive data we can share,” said Birchander. “Obviously we’re hopeful the outcomes were compelling enough for elder affairs to consider moving forward in some capacity with additional supports.”
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.