Good news for AAA service trends in 2021

The Best Times Digital Edition

April 27, 2021

By Dan Goodman

Since May is officially Older Americans Month, I thought it would be good to share some Johnson County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) service trends along with a general update on our service provision as the community begins to transition out of the year long pandemic.

Aging In-Home services

Since December 2020, the demand for Aging In-Home supports and services has been high. Our information and assistance staff have averaged 1,173 service calls each month and that has translated into an average of 291 client assessments for long term care supports and services each month. We know that over the past year, community-based services and supports is the preferred method of receiving long-term care.

The percentage of those needing long-term care seeking in-home community-based care jumped by 11% in 2020. The rate of those needing long-term care choosing a community-based service option was at an all-time annual high of 74%. The previous annual high for community-based service selection was 63%.

What isn’t known yet is whether what we have experienced over the last few months is the crest of the increased need or a precursor of what is yet to come as more folks get vaccinated and feel safer in receiving in-home long-term care supports and services.

ACM services

As of April 2021, the AAA has provided its new service program, Administrative Case Management, for a full year. Starting a new program at the beginning of a pandemic isn’t ideal. However, after the first year our Administrative Case Managers (ACM) have served more than 700 clients.

ACM assists clients that have functionally qualified for waiver services to gain timely financial eligibility for Medicaid. Managers help clients with initial Medicaid application, Medicaid renewal and crisis exceptions. Although the numbers are good, we do expect increased demand for this service as the community transitions from the pandemic and conditions return to a new normal.

High satisfaction rate

AAA also received our annual satisfaction number for the 2020 Aging and Disability Resource Center activity. Of 984 clients surveyed, 963 clients responded that they were satisfied by the services the AAA provided.

Typically, a satisfaction survey required by a service that provides a gatekeeping function is anxiety-provoking for providers. However, in this case, AAA has achieved a 97.8% satisfaction rate, and all during a pandemic. This level of satisfaction and excellent service is something that I like to brag about the quality people I serve with at the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging.

The data point speaks to the AAA’s ability to assist and counsel residents seeking long-term care services we offer, more specifically how timely we get them assessed and how well we inform and connect them to other service options when they don’t qualify for the services they are assessed for.

State and county funding

Support for cost-effective care favors funding to meet the increasing demand. Both Johnson County and the State of Kansas are considering adding funding to aging in-home supports and services.

The Kansas House of Representatives placed a new $3 million investment into its proposed state budget for the upcoming budget year and the Kansas Senate also seems supportive. The state investment would likely result in an increase of around $330,000 for the local Senior Care Act budget.

While at the same time, the county is also considering funding the second half of the $500,000 discussed in 2020 for the local Aging Care Services program. The additional $250,000, if authorized in the county’s proposed 2022 budget set for approval in August, will allow us to serve an additional 104 older residents with community-based long-term care supports and services.

Aging synergy

The recent broad-based, non-partisan support of community- based long-term care for older adults is likely due to the synergy of recognizing these services are a more cost-effective way of serving people needing the assistance in a manner that those in need prefer to be served. The recognition by state and county decision makers may be one of the positive outcomes of a historically difficult time in our history.

Dan Goodman is director of the Johnson County Area Agency on Aging.