Centers Play Key Role in Helping Seniors Manage their Health
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Centers Play Key Role in Helping Seniors Manage their Health

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February 14, 2013

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Today's senior centers are stepping up their efforts to help older participants stay healthy, with many offering on-site case management and partnering with local health care providers.

In a recent NISC survey, nearly half (56) of the 119 senior centers indicated that they provide case management services on site, with some saying they also have a registered nurse on staff, particularly for Medicaid waiver clients. Here are some other interesting findings:

  • Parnerships:
    Respondents said they’ve developed great partnerships with hospitals as a direct result of offering evidence-based healthy aging programs. One center engages local health professionals on its health and wellness committee, and another group of centers developed a partnership with a local health care system's injury prevention program to bring A Matter of Balance, an evidence-based falls prevention program, to their centers.

  • Reimbursement:
    Only four senior centers reported that they bill Medicare directly; one for diabetes screenings. Another eight are billing directly for Medicaid services, and 14 said they receive reimbursement through a partnership with a health care organization.

  • Behavioral Health:
    The numbers are even more promising around partnerships with behavioral/mental health providers. Half of respondents (59) said they partnered for referral services, and a few centers reported that they have a psychiatrist, licensed therapist, prevention support specialist, or nurse practitioner specializing in depression available on a weekly basis.

Under the Affordable Care Act, health care providers are now accountable for the health of individuals across the lifespan. This means they have real incentives to help older adults remain healthy, active, and independent in their communities. 

Partnerships between senior centers and health care organizations (hospital systems, health plans, physician groups, community health clinics, etc.) can ensure that seniors have access to programs and services to maintain their health and manage their chronic conditions. 

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