What is the difference between innovation and using common sense? In private industry which is motivated by profit, innovation is sought after to do or make something the consumer will find valuable. In government the term innovation is rarely used. In spending public money, the motivation for starting new programs is to save money. It is hard not to be excited when I come across a bright light of a idea that addresses the needs of the aging in place crowd but from a government source.
It has a name that is easy to remember from it’s acronym, CAPABLE: Community Aging in Place, Advanced Better Living for Elders. Let us look at the essence of its simplicity and wonder why it took to 2016 to come up with even a pilot program for this. And yes there is a thing called the Center for Innovation in Medicaid and Medicare. It is currently aimed at helping the most in needy in terms of being disabled and low income elderly, but it has the seeds of promise to morph into a benefit add on in Medicare advantage plan someday. Non profits have already been trying to do this with donations and volunteers. It is time to advance this concept.
This initial study had about 234 participants. First they actually asked seniors how their lives at home could improve. These seniors had an average of 6 visits from an occupational therapist, four from a nurse and finally a handyman for a whole day to implement what was needed. This is where the cents come in, they spent between $72-1378 on repairs and equipment to make the homes safer and more livable.
The bottom line was with self reported improvements in about 70% of the seniors. Activities of daily living is what you do for yourself everyday bathing cooking etc. It is inability to do those things that put you in nursing home assisted living range. On average the group had problems with 8 ADLs at the beginning and about 3-4 at the end. The repairs and additions did not wipe away all challenges but they hit the high points. As a big bonus the residents reported less depression as they felt less dependent on others.
This is those scratch your head and ask why is this program still its beginning stages. The real innovation here is that it started with asking the residents what they thought they needed. The professionals validated they knew how they were functioning in their own homes. Have you started to spot some potential jeopardy spots in your home?
Again this particular program may only be available for those who hit that low threshold of medicaid financial eligibility. It is being replicated in Michigan probably with more of a research outcome model which would be good to prove that it saves dollars along with stay at home wishes. We can only hope that this goes from being innovative to being standard procedure.
Thanks to the Kaiser Health News (a national health policy news service that is part of the non partisan Henry J Kaiser Foundation) ) for making this available to the public: See :http://khn.org/news/study-finds-benefits-when-seniors-call-shots-to-help-them/