The Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. (AAA7) has increasingly built a solid partnership with the in-district local VA facility, the Chillicothe Veterans Area Medical Center, to offer veterans in the area access to more services and supports.
Veteran Directed Care
Beginning in 2012, AAA7 partnered to create the Veteran Directed Program, which offers veterans in the district an option to self-direct their care. The program grew over the next year into a nationwide model and continues to provide an alternate care model for veterans as well as serving as a model to transition veterans from nursing facilities back to their homes.
The Veteran Directed Program saves the VA facility money, has high satisfaction ratings among veterans, and aligns with the strategic goal of patient centered care for the VA. Other impacts include improving access to care, as well as improving veteran health and quality of life.
One veteran related, “I’m so happy that I’ve been hooked up with the Veteran Directed Program, it has given me better options. Thank you so much. Here’s to better living and better vets.”
The program has received local, state and national awards.
Music and Memory
In 2016, Shawnee State University’s Master of Occupational Therapy students, AAA7 Regional Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program staff and AAA7 Veteran Directed Program staff partnered to train staff at the Chillicothe VA in a statewide effort from the Ohio Department of Aging to offer Music and Memory in home and community-based settings. Music and Memory uses personalized playlists on digital music players to help people with dementia and other chronic conditions focus and reconnect with the world around them.
The program is being utilized with veterans in the VA facility, as well as those at home, with pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Families are reporting veterans with dementia have decreased wandering and are “coming alive again,” interacting with their families. In one case, a veteran with dementia is now able to ride in a car without anxiety, thanks to Music and Memory. VA facility staff also use the program in their pain management clinic with veterans.
Hospital2Home, begun in 2017, is the most recent significant partnership. This AAA7 program offers individuals age 60 and older who are not on Medicaid the opportunity to receive personal care and home delivered meal vouchers on a short-term basis following a hospital admission. AAA7 option counselors follow up with participants via phone to determine further available services and supports, as well as assess post-hospital needs to prevent readmission. The Chillicothe VA hospital participates in this program, which assists veterans who may not be eligible for other services. AAA7 received a national award for this program in 2018.
Veteran Directed Care, Music and Memory and Hospital2Home, along with other partnerships, have created a trust and automatic connection to the VA, which has facilitated a sharing of resources, increased education for staff in both agencies on benefits and programs, and increased access of community resources to veterans. Working together, we are honoring those who served by ensuring they have access to high-quality, person-centered care.
The AAA7 serves Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton counties in Ohio. It is one of 12 area agencies on aging around the state that coordinate local services and supports for older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers. Visit www.aging.ohio.gov/findservices or call 1-866-243-5678 to be connected to the agency serving your community.
Submitted by By Vicky Abdella, director of community programs, Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc.