The Healthy Aging Initiative
The overall health of older adults is affected by their access to affordable health care but even more by their access to social supports, including adequate income, food, social engagement and safe housing. Older adults want to stay in their homes and neighborhoods as they age and will seek services and supports that help them stay functionally active. That’s why the mission of the Healthy Aging Initiative is to ensure that residents, particularly the most vulnerable, of Santa Clara County and northern San Benito County have access to a network of health and supportive services. We accomplish this through programs like Senior Peer Advocates (SPA) and AGEnts for Change. Action at the local level is critical to the success of efforts to improve access, health care, and health outcomes, particularly for those vulnerable populations.
With the population of people over age 65 growing at an unprecedented rate, it is essential that the Silicon Valley community create a vibrant, senior-friendly environment where people can age independently and safely and stay engaged. The Health Trust is pursuing three strategies to bring about this change:
Long-Term Supports and Services (LTSS): Individuals with chronic conditions and functional limitations, and their informal caregivers, do not have access to a readily available network of affordable options and high quality care and support that allow them to meet daily living needs, live in the community safely and avoid costly institutionalization. This challenge is compounded when older adults have limited income, are isolated or experience food insecurity, language or cultural barriers.
It is estimated that 70 percent of people who reach age 65 will need some kind of long-term care. Older adults and adults with disabilities are living longer with functional impairments and chronic conditions and often prefer to receive services in a community setting rather than an institution.
Long-Term Supports and Services include a broad mix of services and supports that are often needed over an extended time. LTSS ranges from in-patient and ancillary services to in-home care, behavioral health, case management, social day care and skilled nursing. Individuals with chronic conditions and functional limitations do not have access to a readily available network of affordable options and high quality care and support that allow them to meet daily living needs, live in the community safely and avoid costly institutionalization.
In early 2014, The Health Trust convened a cross-sector Long Term Services and Supports Integration Committee of at least 20 LTSS providers in Santa Clara County. These partners, including the County Health & Hospital System, Department of Aging & Adult Services, Sourcewise, Santa Clara Family Health Plan and the Silicon Valley Independent Living Center, will assess the existing system of care and explore opportunities for its redesignunder the leadership of The Health Trust.
Integrated Information and Assistance: Many older adults and their families have difficulty connecting with services that are available to them. To help make this connection, Senior Peer Advocates (SPA) recruits and trains volunteers to provide information and assistance services. SPA volunteers are located in senior centers and community centers throughout Santa Clara County, helping seniors find the information they need to solve problems.
In 2015, the Health Trust further strengthened the Collaborative by providing a grant to the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits for the purposes of building a strategic policy and advocacy partnership with the Collaborative and engaging a Policy Director to carry out these strategies.
AGEnts for Change is a volunteer community of constituents, concerned citizens, caregivers and stakeholders engaged in advocacy and social justice to support key issues related to aging in our community. Volunteers work to understand how policy decisions can impact the lives of seniors and their families, and then work with decision makers to effect sustainable change.
Integrated Information and Assistance: Many older adults and their families have difficulty connecting with services that are available to them. Senior Peer Advocates (SPA) recruits and trains volunteers to provide information and assistance services for seniors in our community. SPA volunteers are located in senior centers and community centers throughout Santa Clara County, helping seniors find the information they need to solve problems.