Caring for the Community: ECA Supports Senior Health

Elder Care Alliance’s Care Coordination Program connects older adults with long-term health and wellness planning services.

At Elder Care Alliance, the commitment to senior wellness extends to neighbors, older adults living beyond the doors of our senior living communities.

Elder Care Alliance’s Care Coordination Program partners with local religious congregations and dioceses to ensure that their community members have access to long-term health and wellness planning services. The goal of the program is to provide peace of mind, security and personal wellness to the seniors it serves.

Through the program, wellness coordinators work directly with the congregations and diocese they serve in order to meet the specific needs of each community.

With backgrounds in gerontology, social work or nursing, coordinators work with older adults to develop individualized care plans, arrange medical appointments, assist with hospital discharge, and help meet emotional and spiritual needs.

Bringing Peace of Mind to Local Seniors

“First off, my door’s open, so I’m always a nurse,” says Lynette Gullings, a Certified Nursing Assistant with the Care Coordination Program. As the Wellness Coordinator for Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, she helps coordinate care for 140 sisters across the country.

Gullings provides a variety of services to the sisters, such as accompanying the women to appointments, walking them through medical processes or diagnoses, and coordinating flu shots and other preventative care.

“For the seniors [the Care Coordination Program] serves here, it gives them so much reassurance,” says Gullings. “Sometimes they just have questions: ‘The doctor said this, and I just don’t understand.’”

The sisters find it comforting to speak to someone who can give advice that they can trust. They know their health concerns will be kept private, and they feel the freedom to open up and ask any questions.

Medical Expertise to Support Wellness

“This job has changed tremendously since I first started,” says Gullings. “It was just wellness, now I take care of their insurance too. I identify who should be on which insurance plans and who should coordinate that.”

At one point, Gullings discovered the sisters were paying too much money out of pocket, and managed to restructure their insurance plans, eventually dropping the pharmacy bill from $1,200 to $200 a month.

Before Gullings joined the Mission, the sisters would often throw out mail concerning their insurance or medical services, too overwhelmed to deal with it. Now, when they have a problem with medical paperwork or insurance, “they know they have somebody they can call, and I help them think outside the box and I help them fix it,” says Gullings.

She has even started a program that documents medical information in case of an emergency. Each sister now has a packet that includes relevant medical history and an insurance card, so the information can be immediately given to a paramedic or doctor.

Personal Wellness

Gullings is also committed to helping each sister achieve her personal wellness goals. “We start discussing health and nutrition, and what does it look like to each sister,” she says. She’s also started health and wellness committees, including a nutrition group that has worked to provide healthier meal options for the sisters.

“Their health affects how good they are in their field. The less they have to stress, the more they can put into their job and the community,” says Gullings. “It’s an amazing job, being able to walk with the sisters through this.”

Click here to learn more about the Care Coordination Program from Elder Care Alliance.

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