Why non-profits need to partner

As I described in this post there is massive growth in the elderly population in Colorado with projections of more than 1.4 million people over the age of 65 in Colorado by 2030. This surge is taxing our health care system and there is no one solution to this challenge. In fact, clinicians, community health workers, and senior advocates alike all agree that it is best serve older adults with a constellation of health and wellness services that address both acute and long-term needs. I strongly believe that, too. I also believe that by creating more and better partnerships within the nonprofit health sector, where organizations focused on different aspects of care and services collaborate together, we can better respond to the diverse and growing needs of older adults. This post details several of Colorado VNA’s burgeoning partnerships as well as information on other community-based nonprofit organizations that are delivering low-cost, high-quality service solutions through partnerships.

CVNA is over 128 years old, has grown to more than 460 employees, and serves over 30,000 patients a year across the Front Range. We certainly want to continue to grow and evolve our core services, yet we know that we cannot provide all the services necessary to help older adults age in place. In fact, our organization is evaluating the services we currently provide, and services that are not well-positioned to both provide excellent care AND also remain sustainable are being decreased. This recent introspection was in large part inspired by CVNA’s participation in the Colorado Health Foundation’s Linkage Lab Program. Through this 19-month program, CVNA along with other excellent community-based organizations such as Easterseals Colorado, DRCOG, and Senior Resource Center, learned or reinforced critical skills like strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, marketing, and program design. Most importantly, the participating organizations learned the value of collaboration and partnership as a way to accelerate impact while limiting the duplication of services and resources. CVNA has created two formal partnerships as a result of our participation in the Linkage Lab, one with Easterseals of Colorado and another with DRCOG. We have also created a partnership with Habitat of Metro Denver which I described in my last post.  Here is a brief overview of these partnerships.

  1. Through a partnership with Easterseals of Colorado, CVNA has created a home transition program for stable stroke patients that bypasses a stay in a rehabilitation facility. Currently, stroke patients often spend needless time in a hospital while discharge planners determine an appropriate discharge location. Some of these patients could go home aided by appropriate home health and rehabilitation services. CVNA and Easterseals have developed a program that combines CVNA’s home health nursing and rehabilitation expertise along with Easterseals’ day stroke rehabilitation services to allow patients to quickly return home. We are now working to find funding and hospital partners to pilot this program.
  2. Our second partnership is with DRCOG as part of its Medicare Accountable Health Communities Grant. Through this partnership, CVNA is one of several community-based organizations that assists DRCOG in collecting data to help in improve communication and collaboration between medical and community-based organizations. Additionally, the grant will study how addressing social needs like housing instability, food insecurity, domestic violence, and transportation can decrease unnecessary healthcare spending.

In addition to the above partnerships, I have been impressed with several other local nonprofits that are working creatively to help keep people independent with minimal cost. These organizations are ones I definitely see CVNA creating partnerships with the in the future!

  1. Project Angel Heat in Denver has created an excellent Meals for Care Transitions program that provides patients leaving a care setting with medically-tailored meals three times a day for up to 30 days. The purpose of the program is to ensure that patients returning home have the food and nutrition they need to reduce their risk of readmission and/or prevent further health complications. Project Angel Heart is offering this program in partnership with a hospital in the Denver metro area and is also partnering with other organizations to provide this service.
  2. A Little Help is an organization leveraging the power of community volunteers and its partnerships with other community-based organizations to help the elderly remain in their homes. A Little Help operates like a virtual PACE program without the medical providers and community centers. The program works by charging “members” a yearly fee to become part of the network. The cost of membership is a small fraction of the benefits each member receives through A Little Help’s programs and services.

There are many more examples of Colorado organizations doing tremendous work in the aging space. Unfortunately, not one of these organizations alone has the resources necessary to address all the challenges of the rapid pace at which our older adult population is growing. By putting our hearts and heads together, we can develop collaborative programs and shape a more responsive system for older adults and their families.

Do you know of any/have you used any older adult collaboration-based programs or services to meet your health and wellness needs? Tell us about your experience!