Care coordination begins with you

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Maureen Hewitt
Maureen Hewitt

Care coordination begins with you. With independent living, assisted living, continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) / life plan communities and the other settings that help older adults live on their terms. It begins with you because your staff members are the eyes and ears of the care coordinator.

Care coordination augments the services delivered by facility staff by adding an extra level of personal care, attention and resources that otherwise might not be available. The services may be private-pay or provided by a health insurer. No matter how one pays for the services, there's a standard set of services, which most care coordination organizations provide.

Care coordination for older adults typically includes:

  • Personal health and wellness plans,
  • Personal care and on-site support,
  • Healthcare provider appointment scheduling,
  • Person-centered dementia care and support and
  • Respite for family caregivers.

Care coordinators often work remotely, so teaming with on-the-ground nurses, physicians and other healthcare professionals who have considerable first-hand knowledge of the older adult is vital to the care coordination process. Creating and promoting a team-based approach among the assisted living, independent living and CCRC staff and the care coordinators is crucial to care coordination success. Simply put, providing the best, highest-quality care possible is critical.

If the older adult participates in an adult day program such as PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly), then he or she receives many types of care, including medical and dental services. Care coordinators are the essential link between the adult day program and staff at the living environment. They are a terrific information and resource conduit for those who care for the older adult in the facility.  

Care coordination is especially helpful when family members live far away and may not have the opportunity to visit the loved one frequently. Once again, care coordinators are the bridge between the older adult, the facility and outside healthcare providers.

In the end, care coordination becomes the responsibility of everyone who touches the living continuum of the older adult. Whether one is a formal "Care Coordinator" or humble care coordinator, working together is the only way to ensure the long-term health and wellness of the older adults in our care.

Maureen Hewitt is resident and CEO at InnovAge, a Denver-based provider of health and wellness services for older adults living in California, Colorado and New Mexico. She has more than 20 years of leadership experience at for-profit and nonprofit healthcare organizations.

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