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Inside The Senior Alliance: What is Supports Coordination? (Ep 5)

Jason Maciejewski:
Welcome to episode five of Inside The Senior Alliance, a podcast exploring resources and issues in the aging field. I’m Jason Maciejewski, chief advocacy and planning officer with The Senior Alliance, the Area Agency on Aging, serving Western and Southern Wayne County. Today I’m joined by Sarah Driscoll and supports coordinator with the MI Choice waiver program.

Sarah Driscoll (00:19):
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

Jason Maciejewski (00:21):
And Janet Elliott, the supports coordinator with the care management program.

Janet Elliott (00:25):
Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here today.

Jason Maciejewski (00:28):
We discussing some of the services available in the programs they work on, and their roles. Sarah, what is the role of a support coordinator in the MI Choice Waiver program?

Sarah Driscoll (00:36):
So my role in the Waiver program is to ensure that all of the appropriate services and interventions are in place to keep our program participants safe and healthy in their own home, rather than going to a nursing home. And to be a support coordinator, you really do have to wear a lot of different hats and play a lot of different roles, such as an advocate, an educator, a liaison coordinating care with outside entities, and finding and linking resources for our participants.

Jason Maciejewski (01:03):
So, Janet, what is the role of a supports coordinator in the care management program?

Janet Elliott (01:07):
So within care management, I provide supports and services to people who are aged 60 and older, who are at risk for nursing home placement. My role is to coordinate services and supports required to keep them safe within their homes.

Jason Maciejewski (01:25):
I see. So, Sarah, in a previous episode of Inside The Senior Alliance, we talked in depth about the MI Choice Waiver program and the services that were available in it. Those services are delivered by a vendor network. So as a support coordinator, what is your relationship with that vendor network that provides in-home services?

Sarah Driscoll (01:43):
So my relationship with the vendor network is really just linking and coordinating services between the vendor network, between the caregivers providing services and the participants receiving services, to ensure that the participants’ needs are being met appropriately. And I also assist with managing complaints, if there’s an issue between the caregiver and the participant or the vendor and the participant, I would mediate the situation until it’s resolved.

Jason Maciejewski (02:07):
And Janet is your relationship with the care management vendor network similar?

Janet Elliott (02:11):
Very similar do the, uh, pretty much the same thing.

Jason Maciejewski (02:15):
I see. So Janet, how often do you interact with the participants in the care management program?

Janet Elliott (02:20):
Well, we do a monthly call, but I also talk to them as needed. They can contact me if they have questions or concerns, or if I’m offering a one-time service of groceries, a food box donation, hygiene packs, and incontinent supply delivery when available.

Jason Maciejewski (02:43):
So, supply delivery, meals programs, are many of the program participants in care management taking advantage of those?

Janet Elliott (02:50):
They are, especially the one-time grocery services. They are really thankful to be getting that. And, you know, I like the fact that we’re able to offer them these different services because it helps to keep me connected to my participants and make sure that their needs are being met.

Jason Maciejewski (03:12):
And Sarah, how often are you interacting with participants in the MI Choice Waiver program?

Sarah Driscoll (03:17):
Interact with my participants daily, weekly, sometimes more than a few times a week. It really just depends on what their current situation is. If they’re having any issues, concerns in the home, it really kind of just varies depending on the participant and kind of what the dynamic inside their home looks like.

Jason Maciejewski (03:35):
And is there an assessment process that goes into evaluating people on the program?

Sarah Driscoll (03:40):
Yeah, so it starts off with an initial assessment, which would involve a nurse and a social worker, and they are the ones that are kind of the first line of defense that would see, you know, what services would be appropriate to be put in place. And then after the initial assessment, then they would transfer that to a support coordinator such as myself. And then from there, we do our, um, our 90-day assessment to ensure that the goals are being met within the program, to assess the want and the need. And then we would do, um, kind of like a six-month follow-up just to kind of, you know, again, make sure that the goals are being met to evaluate the services that are in place to see if anything needs to be added or taken away. And then we do our annual assessment every year. Again, we’re communicating with these participants, you know, daily, weekly. And then we also do our annual comprehensive assessments, um, once a year and then our six month follow-up with them as well.

Jason Maciejewski (04:32):
I know many of our program participants have goals that they want to achieve aided by our services. Do the services provided by MI Choice Waiver improve health and wellness of people so they can reach those objectives?

Sarah Driscoll (04:42):
Absolutely. And not only for the participants, but also for their families. Our services can be put in place for a multitude of reasons to fit each and every person’s individual situation. So say that the participant lives with a family member who works full time, but requires 24/7 supervision due to their cognition or behaviors. And maybe there’s a caregiver shortage in the area, because we are seeing a caregiver shortage nationwide. We could offer the intervention of adult daycare, which would allow this person to remain living in the community rather than going into a nursing facility, allow their family to still go to work, to provide for the family and the participant. And also, this participant would have the supervision that’s needed to ensure that they’re remaining healthy and safety safe in their own home.

Jason Maciejewski (05:26):
And Janet, the care management program participants. Do they have goals as well?

Janet Elliott (05:30):
Absolutely. Most of their goals are to remain as independent in their own home as they’re capable of doing. And by adding the assistance for light homemaking and personal care, whether it’s standby for their showers or hands-on with bathing, that can help a person stay safe within their home. We also are providing people with a personal emergency response system, which is the emergency button in case they fall or they’re having an emergency. And a lot of times, that alone can offer peace of mind to the participant as well as their family members.

Jason Maciejewski (06:15):
Yeah, those PERS units can be, uh, very valuable, uh, for participants and their caregivers. Janet, could you tell me about a time when the services that Senior Alliance has coordinated for people has made a difference in their life?

Janet Elliott (06:28):
Yeah, so I have an older gentleman that is in the program and he is very debilitated, physically. He is also about six foot six and his spouse is about five foot one, and he requires a lot of care. So I have a caregiver that’s going into his home two days a week and she’s helping to provide the wife with respite care, as well as just helping the wife with his care because he’s such a big guy. I’ve been able to get them food donations. I’ve been able to get him incontinent supplies. And last year we used the American house grant to be able to pay a $1,000 propane heating bill that they had.

Jason Maciejewski (07:26):
So you’ve been able to bring together resources from multiple sources to provide respite for caregivers and really assist the wife with the situation in the home?

Janet Elliott (07:35):
Exactly. And, you know, really kind of changed the situation that they were in that now they have more stable finances because of this bill previously, they haven’t had a lot of medical bills that kept them from getting this bill paid. So now they’re able to afford their heat this year, and they’re services in place to not only help ensure his safety, but to take care of her because she’s kind of one of our top priorities too, because if something happens to her, then what happens with the participant?

Jason Maciejewski (08:16):
That’s a great example of, of how helping a caregiver is really an important part of what we do. So, Sarah, is there an example you can share with us from the MI Choice Waiver program where the services that we have is really made a difference for someone?

Sarah Driscoll (08:31):
Absolutely. And I really do love that question because it really gets you thinking, you know, over my time in the MI Choice waiver program, as a supports coordinator, there have been many different situations that have stuck out to me where I feel that I did make a positive impact on someone’s life. Um, but one instance really does kind of still hit home to me to this day. I was working with a participant who was in a home for a year. They had a stroke, they were primarily wheelchair and bed-bound. And during one of our comprehensive assessments, it was voiced to me by this participant that their daughter was going to be graduating nursing school. This family did not have a wheelchair accessible vehicle for this participant. So he was going to end up missing the graduation altogether. And after talking with my managers, we were able to secure transportation for this participant to attend his daughter’s graduation with his entire family.

Sarah Driscoll (09:24):
And this was such a huge moment for those participant, because it really does just go to show, that even though this participant has many different health conditions, that doesn’t mean that his quality of life should be negatively impacted in any way or that he should miss out on any big life events. You know, I was lucky enough to have my own father at my graduation. Um, so this kind of pulled at my heartstrings a little bit to think that this participant was going to miss out on watching his daughter graduate and this big life event, just because the family had no means of getting him to her to or from the graduation.

Jason Maciejewski (09:56):
Right. It’s a great example of how somebody having a goal of going to an event like a family graduation is really important because by achieving that goal, they’re really improving other aspects of their life. They’re improving health and wellness as well. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Sarah Driscoll (10:14):
No, I would just like to add that I think that the MI Choice Waiver program is such a beneficial program for anybody who may be at risk for nursing home placement that would meet the medical and financial criteria for our program, to keep them at home in their own home. You know, because at the end of the day, home is where you’re most comfortable. And, you know, the last thing we want to see is, you know, individuals go into a nursing facility when they could be receiving similar services that a nursing facility would provide, but in their own home. So, I just wanted to add, you know, that I think, you know, Waiver is a great program and it’s so beneficial to participants in so many different aspects.

Jason Maciejewski (10:57):
Janet, do you have anything else you’d like to add about the care management program?

Janet Elliott (11:00):
Care management is a wonderful program within our community. We’re able to provide assistance for personal care and homemaking to our area residents. The nice thing about care management is that they only have to qualify by being age 60 or older. There is no financial constraints to our program. Services are limited, but we’re still able to meet the needs of our participants on a weekly basis.

Jason Maciejewski (11:34):
I thank Janet and Sarah for joining me today on the podcast. If anyone has any questions about services or programs we offer, you can call us at +1 800-815-1112, or email us at Information about our agency programs and services we offer can be found on our website at On Facebook, our page can be located by searching for The Senior Alliance. And finally, our Twitter handle is @AAA1C.

I’m Jason Maciejewski. Thank you for joining us for this episode of Inside The Senior Alliance.

Inside The Senior Alliance is a production of The Senior Alliance and Blazing Kiss Media.


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