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C-TAC & n4a Launch Project to Support Aging Network’s Role Caring for Individuals with Advanced Illness

*Note: Join C-TAC and n4a on Jan. 23 at 2 PM ET for a webinar that will provide an overview of the partnership, a discussion of the importance of advance care planning (ACP) and how the Aging Network can play a key role in this space, and highlight an innovative AAA-led statewide ACP initiative in Indiana. Register here.)*

As leaders of organizations that share a commitment to improving the lives of older adults, we are both keenly aware of the unique challenges and care needs of those living with advanced illness, defined as one or more conditions becoming serious enough that general health and functioning begin to decline, curative treatment loses its effectiveness, and care becomes increasingly oriented towards comfort—a process that extends to the end of life. Beyond treating an underlying serious condition and managing its pain and symptoms, much of what these individuals want is not strictly medical in nature: coordinating care amongst providers, articulating care goals and values, formalizing care plans, ensuring smooth care transitions, assessing the home environment, ensuring adequate nutrition and transportation is available, and making sure family caregivers are supported. For those facing advanced illness, these are the kinds of non-medical supports that can help maximize dignity, independence, and quality of life during this most difficult of times.

Fortunately, trusted and experienced providers with long histories of expertise in these kinds of community-based supportive services already exist in this country in the form of the Aging Network, comprised of 622 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and thousands of other community-based organization (CBO) partners that help support older adults, those with disabilities, and their families in every community in America. But if we are to bring the Aging Network’s strengths to bear on the quest to improve advanced illness care, efforts are needed to more fully bridge the gap between the medical and social service sectors, and greater support must be marshalled to bolster non-medical CBOs’ capacity to provide these health-managing services to more people who need them. That is why we are so pleased to be able to announce a new strategic partnership between the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC) and the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a).

Our partnership has two primary objectives:

  • Collaborating with and supporting the nation’s Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and others in the Aging Network to explore potential programmatic and legislative solutions to strengthen community-based organizations (CBOs) and their ability to deliver community-based care and support to those living with advanced illness and their families.
  • Working together and with other key health care, social service, and policymaking stakeholder groups to develop avenues for reimbursement and integration of AAAs and other CBOs into new payment and delivery models (APMs).

This partnership and project makes perfect sense for our two organizations—bringing together n4a’s Aging Network members with C-TAC’s diverse group of advanced illness experts from the provider, payer, policy, and consumer sectors will have a synergistic effect, and builds on the broader momentum within the healthcare sector to address the social support needs of individuals and their families. Through the provision of supportive services and more person-centered patient and family education on the range of hospice and palliative care options, the Aging Network can be a powerful partner in improving the lives of those living with advanced illness.

We hope to share our best practices and create new tools and approaches to serving this population. We are kicking off the partnership with a series of blogs and webinars that highlight advanced illness innovation in the Aging Network. Check out the first blog post in this series on the Pima Council on Aging’s successful community-based advanced care planning initiative, and register for our first webinar on January 23 at 2 PM ET, highlighting Aging and In-Homes Services of Northeast Indiana’s (AIHS) statewide work coordinating the Honoring Choices™ advanced care planning project.

But blogs and webinars are just the beginning. C-TAC and n4a will also establish workgroups, toolkits, and other educational resources to move this work forward. And as the Older Americans Act (OAA) reauthorization is fast approaching, we’ll also explore legislative proposals that can help support the Aging Network’s advanced illness efforts. A number of different areas for collaboration will be explored as the partnership matures, including the Aging Network’s role in advance care planning, information and referral, care planning and assessment, family caregiver support, workforce education and training, and payment innovations. These and other topics will also be featured at C-TAC’s 2019 National Summit on Advanced Illness Care, taking place in Minneapolis, MN, October 9-11, 2019.

Living with an advanced illness is not an experience that happens in a healthcare vacuum. The consequences and challenges of advanced illness reverberate well beyond the walls of a doctor’s office or a hospital room. We need care and support solutions that respond to the holistic experience of living with a life-limiting illness, meet patients and families where they are, and focus on what matters most to them. It turns out that what often matters most are things like having healthy food, making sure there is a way to get around safely, navigating the maze of providers involved in your care, and having someone in the home to help out now and then with the daily maintenance tasks that the rest of us take for granted. The Aging Network has been delivering these kinds of person-centered solutions for decades, but is still an untapped and underutilized resource for the healthcare sector, especially those entities involved in advanced illness care. With this new partnership, C-TAC and n4a hope to demonstrate the value the Aging Network can bring to advanced illness patients, families, and providers, and help the wider healthcare system deliver on the promise of truly integrated care.

For more information about the partnership and to find out how you can become involved, please contact Davis Baird, C-TAC Policy and Advocacy Manager at dbaird@thectac.org

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