Tips to Fund and Sustain Your Health Programs
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Tips to Fund and Sustain Your Health Programs

January 13, 2012

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If you offer a community-based health program for older adults, funding is likely a continuing challenge.

Too often, effective programs get off to a great start with grant funding, only to fade away when the money runs dry.

In conjunction with the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we’ve compiled a valuable new guide that can help you keep your program going strong. Lessons Learned on Sustainability of Older Adult Community Behavioral Health Services includes tips, resources, and more.

The report is focused on older adult behavioral health programs, but the ideas included can be applied to any health program for older adults that’s in need of continued funding.

7 Lessons Learned

The report details lessons learned from 12 past SAMSHA and Administration on Aging grantees in older adult behavioral health. Here are their key findings:

1. Learn the business side of your health program.

Learn how to provide covered services, become a provider, and bill a third-party payer such as Medicaid, Medicare, or private insurance. If you’re already a provider, learn how to bill more effectively. Plan for sustainability from day one. Prepare clear strategies for gradual financial self-sufficiency.

2. Pursue multiple and diverse financing sources.

Approach potential funding sources early on and solicit feedback. Identifying funder needs early allows time to obtain data or change your approach. Also, expand the search. For example, if you are an area agency on aging, pursue health funding in addition to more familiar aging sources.

3. Measure service outcomes from the outset.

The most important factor to sustainability can be documented impact. To secure additional, long-term support, a potential funder will need evidence that the service is having positive client outcomes. Use data to make the funding case.

4. Use braided funding to sustain services.

Weave together multiple funding sources to support a coordinated package of services. In this approach, the funds remain in separate strands but are joined or “braided” at the client-level.

5. Integrate the work into your organization.

Choose a service that can be built into ongoing work. For example, embedding depression care into traditional care management can be a meaningful and practical service enhancement.

6. Get CEO commitment.

To be sustained, a service must be a priority in the organization. Only the CEO exercises this authority.

7. Engage local partners.

Find partners such as area agencies on aging and community health centers. The advantages of partnerships and strategic collaboration should not be underestimated.

Get more tips and advice on sustaining health programs for seniors by downloading the full report.


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