As Colorado VNA’s CEO, I think about aging and the perception of aging a lot given that over 75% of patients we serve are 65 and older. In fact, in partnership with our Board of Directors, our organization has begun to update its strategic plan beginning with our mission, vision, and values. This was encouraged largely by the realization that our patient demographics are changing and that the over-65 population will grow dramatically in Colorado over the next several decades (it is estimated that one in four Coloradans will be 60+ by 2040).
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject of aging, too, and recently I was introduced to The FrameWorks Institute” Aging Toolkit which is the result of a strategic analysis into the “communications aspects of aging issues.” This toolkit provides a set of tools and “guidelines that help [organizations and people] work more intentionally and strategically to advance the conversation about older people in the United States.”
Further, the Aging Toolkit challenges all of us to re-frame how we think about and communicate aging in America. The developers assert that the:
“public must come to appreciate that well being is influenced by a range of social policies (e.g., health care policies, tax policies) and social structures (e.g., the way American communities typically arrange housing and transportation) and, crucially, that these aspects of society can be changed with respect to aging.”
The Aging Toolkit provides excellent guidance for policy makers and healthcare decision makers – and I would argue that the Toolkit also provides inspiration and guidance for service providers like CVNA, particularly now as we examine our programs as part of our strategic plan overhaul and think about how we will communicate our updated focus in the coming months and years.
The most significant correlation between the Aging Toolkit and CVNA’s updated mission comes from the Toolkit’s Eight Themes for a New Frame on Aging. The themes provide guidance on useful ways to boost the general public’s knowledge of and focus on aging issues and to build support for future policies and practices that encourage an “age-integrated” society. The theme that most resonates with CVNA is Ingenuity:
Ingenuity: Americans are problem-solvers. When we see an opportunity, we figure out how to seize it—and when we see that something isn’t working, we rethink our approach. Replacing outdated practices with new, smarter ways of doing things is the key to our nation’s ingenuity.
CVNA has identified a new core purpose – our most fundamental reason for being, why we exist and the guiding statement that underlies everything CVNA does – as part of our strategic planning process, and ingenuity is woven into its foundation:
CVNA provides the most appropriate range of health care solutions to allow people to maximize independence and to heal and age at home.
By developing and utilizing diverse tools, competencies, and capabilities to offer a “range of health care solutions” that help a person remain in the home while they heal and age – and knowing said tools, competencies, and capabilities will differ for each and every person we serve – exemplifies an ingenious spirit and approach to older adult health care.
As an example, CVNA is one of Kaiser Permanente’s primary home health partners in Colorado, and we work continuously with them to develop new and creative ways to transition people home from hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and rehabilitation facilities all within the intricacies of the Kaiser system, the Medicare regulations by which we are governed, and the requirements of being a licensed provider of home health. The work we do to help Kaiser patients heal in the home is vastly different than what we do to support our Area Agency on Aging clients that need in-home support services to remain independent. Simply put, helping older adults remain in the home is complex and requires ingenuity.
In addition to this purpose, CVNA has defined four core values that reflect our deeply held convictions and priorities.
- Provide health solutions that enable people to function as independently as possible in their homes and communities.
- Deliver high quality care that is cost effective with high patient, employee, provider and insurer satisfaction.
- Provide high-acuity and individualized healthcare in the home.
- Maintain a culture of opportunity and meaningful work.
In these core values we also see the strong connections to the Aging Toolkit’s ingenuity theme.
The final part of CVNA’s new strategic plan is our two key goals for the next ten years. The first is our aspiration to become a nationally recognized leader in the provision of home and community-based care that maximizes independence. We will achieve this goal by continuing to improve the quality of the care we provide as measured by our patients and Medicare Home Health Compare. We will also do this by developing innovative care and support models that help people remain independent like our CAPABLE program and our new telehealth program.
CVNA’s second and just-as-important goal is to become and stay financially stable for the coming years and decades. As I wrote about here, financial stability is difficult in this time of limited reimbursement. Fortunately, our organization has been blessed with excellent leaders in the past who made decisions to purchase buildings at 390 Grant Street in Denver and 2400 Clubhouse Drive in Greeley. Recently, we decided to sell our Denver-based headquarters and move to a new building in Arvada in December 2017. This sale and move allows us to put some reserves in the bank as well as build out a custom interior that will make more efficient and creative use of space, allow for best-in-class clinician training rooms, and overall provide a healthier workplace for our employees and visitors. Stay tuned for more updates on the new building in the coming months.
CVNA is preparing for an uncertain health care future, as well as a major demographic shift, by utilizing tools such as the Aging Toolkit and seeking guidance from organizations like the FrameWorks Institute. Individually and collectively we need to tap into our ingenuity to create adaptable health solutions that help adults remain in the home.