California’s senior population is expected to grow by four million people through 2030. Among the challenges faced by older Americans is their ability to manage their health, and to access coordinated supportive services in their homes and in the communities where they live.
Supportive services include nutrition, housing, transportation, care management, in-home personal care and homemaker services, which enable seniors to maintain their independence and stay safe and healthy as they age. As our senior population grows, it is important that we focus on supportive services that are coordinated with overall healthcare and well-being needs; that we address barriers to those services; and that we seize opportunities to advance innovative community-based care models.
Through a combination of applied medical research, supportive policy, effective advocacy and outcomes-based philanthropy, West Health is working to create and foster new integrated care models that improve health outcomes and better address both the medical and non-medical needs of seniors and their families. Our Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Gary and Mary West Health Policy Center and Gary and Mary West Foundation all work together under the umbrella of West Health with a shared mission to enable successful aging for our nation’s seniors. Among other research initiatives, West Health is working to connect seniors to the supportive services they want and need to age successfully in place, which includes access to home and community-based services and care navigation support. The West Health Institute is conducting research on innovative ways to provide the care and supportive services that keep seniors healthy, safe, independent and connected.
In 2016, researchers at the West Health Institute, Meals on Wheels America and Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research began collaborating on a two-year project that investigated how the general health, safety and well-being of homebound seniors could be improved by integrating nutritional, health and safety monitoring into daily meal-delivery services, and by connecting seniors with the appropriate services and support they needed to mitigate risk for loss of independence. Meals on Wheels San Diego is one of two pilot sites where this research is currently being conducted.
Since 2009, Serving Seniors’ nonprofit Gary and Mary West Senior Wellness Center in San Diego has been providing local seniors with a place to connect with other seniors and to receive wellness services, including nutrition and health education, nurse case management, psychiatric nurses, support groups and free legal assistance and counseling related to Medicare and Medicaid.
Since 2017, the West Health Institute has been partnering with University of California, Irvine on a 360 Degree Caregiving Solution. This initiative provides a comprehensive, coordinated patient-centered plan that links healthcare with community-based social service agencies to make sure older adults receive the care and services they need. By creating a more efficient connection between supportive services and healthcare providers, the initiative aims to preserve and protect seniors’ ability to live their lives on their own terms and to maintain medical and psychosocial stability.
1. United States Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, et al. An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States. www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1140.pdf.
2. Medicaid’s Role in Meeting Seniors’ Long-Term Services and Supports Needs.” Kaiser Family Foundation, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 2 Aug. 2016.
3. Reaves, Erica L, and MayBeth Musumeci. Medicaid and Long-Term Services and Supports: A Primer.
4. Taressa Fraze, Valerie A. Lewis, Hector P. Rodriguez and Elliott S. Fisher. Housing, Transportation, And Food: How ACOs Seek To Improve Population. Health By Addressing Nonmedical Needs Of Patients. Health Affairs 35, no.11 (2016):2109-2115. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0727
5. Montgomery, Anne. “Paths To Sustainable Health Care Spending Require Attention To Long-Term Services And Supports.”Health Policy Forum, Altarum, 11 July 2017, altarum.org/health-policy-blog/paths-to-sustainable-health-care-spending-require-attention-to-long-term-services-and-supports.