For our aging care issue, we sat down with Celeste Collins, Director of the Bluegrass Area Agency on Aging and Independent Living (BGAAAIL) to hear about how they are providing services to the aging population in our state.
Medical News: BGAAAIL offers an impressive array of services for both the aging and disability communities. Do you feel your organization is unique as compared to similar groups in other states?
Celeste Collins: There are similarities and differences in every Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) across the Unites States. All are required to provide services that are funded through the Federal Older Americans Act. That’s where you would see similarities across states. Each state will vary among one another with additional programs and services that are mandated through the Legislation of that particular state. In Kentucky there is legislation for the operation of programs the state of Kentucky has chosen to fund. The Homecare Program, Hart Supported Living and Personal Care Attendant Program are examples programs our state requires.
Kentucky has 15 AAA’s within the state, with differences even at a regional level within an AAA. For example, in Bluegrass, we have a special program called Transitional Care, which is a private contract between BGAAAIL and HealthCare Providers to provide in-home supports to the patients the HealthCare Provider determines to be at a higher risk for readmission into the hospital. Different AAAIL’s will apply for grant funding or work with community partners to develop and operate programs and services that are unique to their region. AAAIL’s are charged with researching the need of their specific community and developing services and programs that support the need of the people in their community.
MN: Are there new services you plan to offer or would like to offer?
CC: BGAAAIL currently offers a Transitional Care program with Baptist Health of Lexington. We hope to expand that program to include their Physician Clinics in the near future. We would also love to expand this program to the ACO’s within our district as well as other healthcare providers.
MN: Where do you see gaps in the current aging and disability system in Kentucky – are we trailing our peer states in key areas?
CC: There remains a financial gap in funding of in-home supports versus nursing facility long term care supports. There is also a gap for individuals with physical disabilities between the ages of 21-59. Medicaid Waiver programs are the only option at this time for services to individuals in that age range.
MN: Is there a particular segment of the populations you serve that needs more services / are there any populations not included in current eligibility criteria that you think should be included, e.g., acquired or traumatic brain injury?
CC: As stated above, there is a significant gap in available services to individuals with physical disabilities between the ages of 21-59 if that person doesn’t qualify for Medicaid Waiver. Aging programs generally are for individuals who are 60 and over and there are programs through the community and school systems for young children up to the age of 21. This makes it very difficult for a median income range individual between the ages of 21-59 to get the services they need if they don’t have enough income to afford private pay for services, but may make too much to qualify for a Medicaid Waiver program.
MN: Do you see a need for advocacy at the state or federal level for any particular issues?
CC: There is a need for continued advocacy at both the state and federal level to continue to fund both the State General Funded programs as well as Federal Older American’s Act programs. These programs have either taken budget cuts over the past years or the funding has been held at 2006 funding levels with no increase to offset the amount of baby boomers who are aging into and utilizing the services. There also needs to be additional advocacy to bring the level of spending between in-home programs and nursing facility long-term care to a better balance.
MN: Do you think other healthcare providers are sufficiently aware of organizations like yours? If not, what would drive better awareness?
CC: In BGAAAIL we have worked to provide outreach/information among the healthcare providers across our 17 county region for the past several years. We are members of the Bluegrass Community Health Coalition which is made up of any sort of industry in the healthcare field. Even with this work, we know there are still numerous healthcare providers out there we haven’t touched and are not familiar with our organization. We haven’t found the solution to the question, “What would drive better awareness?” but we continue to search for that remedy.
The BGAAAIL will promote & provide for the development of community-based systems of care, which include:
- Planning, access and delivery of services.
- Coordination of activities and programs.
- Advocacy on behalf of and education for older persons, disabled individuals and caregivers in the communities of the Bluegrass.
What is an AAAIL?
- Every community in America is served by an Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
Nationwide, contact Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or www.eldercare.gov.
In Kentucky, contact the Department for Aging & Independent Living at (502) 564-6930 or http://chfs.ky.gov/dail/.
- Independent Living (IL) reflects recent shift toward serving younger people with disabilities.