NY Connects: Choices for Long Term Care 2014-2015
In SFY 2013-2014, an appropriation of $3,350,000 was contained in the enacted Aid to Localities bill for NY Connects: Choices for Long-Term Care (NY Connects). NY Connects serves as one of the integral components of New York State's efforts to rebalance the long term services and supports system through its emphasis on community based services and supports and person centered approach. NY Connects is a locally based, "No Wrong Door" system that provides one stop access to free, objective, comprehensive information and assistance for people of all ages needing long term services and supports. The program links individuals of all ages to long term services and supports regardless of payment source; whether it be private pay, public or a combination of both. Currently, there are 53 local NY Connects programs.
Quantitative Report data indicates that for July 2007- June 2012, there were 887,725 people who contacted the program in search of long term care information and assistance. From October 2010 - September 2011, individuals contacted NY Connects for assistance with Heating and Utility Payments (22,702), followed by personal care (19,868), Home Delivered Meals (16,974), Case/Care Management (16,439), Home Health Care (13,447), Health Insurance Information &Counseling (13,446), Medicaid (13,092), Medical Transportation (12,073), Medicare Information/Counseling (8,992), and Advocacy (7,994).
NY Connects was established in 2006 by the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) in collaboration with the New York State Department of Health. To date, there have been more than one million contacts to the program. NY Connects complies with federal statute as prescribed by the 2006 Amendments to the Older Americanâ€™s Act and is recognized by the Administration on Aging (AoA) and the Administration on Community Living (ACL) as an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC). In 2007, NY Connects was statutorily mandated through section 203(8) of the New York State Elder Law.
Through the provision of free, comprehensive, objective Information and Assistance about long term services and supports, NY Connects empowers individuals and families to identify available services and supports and choose what will best meet their needs at home, in the community and, as necessary, in residential or institutional settings.
NY Connects consists of the following fundamental components:
- Information and Assistance - Through a standardized comprehensive screening process, local NY Connects Information and Assistance Specialists provide personalized counseling to help consumers make informed decisions and can assist in accessing available long term services and support options to meet existing or future long term services and support needs. Local NY Connects programs provide Information and Assistance on available long term services and supports options to the older population, individuals of all ages with disabilities, and caregivers. Information and Assistance is available in various ways including telephone access; face to face meetings at the office, in the community or in the home; or email.
- Public Education - Public education and outreach are conducted to increase the visibility of the program and alleviate the misconception that long term services and supports can be delivered only in institutional settings.
- Long Term Care Councils - NY Connects is the first program of its kind to initiate long term services and supports reform through the creation of Local Long Term Care Councils. Long Term Care Councils in each participating county are made up of consumers, caregivers, providers, advocates, government representatives (AAA Directors, DSS Commissioners), and key stakeholders who come together to analyze the local long term services and supports system, identify gaps, duplication and barriers in the system and make recommendations for improvements. The Councils use their findings to work toward a system that is more streamlined, efficient, and responsive - a system that helps consumers remain at home and in the community.
- Options Counseling- Options Counseling is a person-centered, interactive, and individualized process, whereby individuals are supported in making informed long-term support decisions based on their preferences, strengths, values, abilities and resources. It includes exploring options, assisting with accessing supports/services, following-up with the individual, and may result in the development of an action plan.
Additionally an online resource directory of providers of long term services and supports, information about the different types of such services and contact information for the local programs is available at www.nyconnects.ny.gov.
The number of contacts to the program has steadily increased each year since the inception of the program as shown in the graph below. From March 2012 to March 2013, there were more than 300,000 contacts to the NY Connects program.
The recognition of NY Connects as an ADRC by AoA, ACL and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made New York State eligible for additional federal funding for targeted programs.
- Nursing Home Diversion Modernization Program (2008) and the Community Living Program (2009): Helped older adults maintain their independence and remain in their communities by offering consumer directed models of care, which allow individuals to be more involved and have more control over the types of services they receive and how they receive them. Eighty-six (86) percent of the participants were diverted from nursing home placement and remained in their homes. Over 83 percent of participants avoided spending down their resources to the Medicaid level. The outcome of these pilot programs were instrumental in shaping revisions to New York State's Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) regulations to allow for greater flexibility in fundable ancillary services, and added the ability to allow for consumer directed in-home services.
- Veterans Directed Home and Community Based Services Program (2008): Allowed VA Medical Centers (VAMCs) to purchase consumer directed services and other home and community based services directly from the aging network for qualified veterans of all ages who are at risk of nursing home placement.
- Aging and Disability Resource Center Grant (2009): Improved access to long term services and supports through the provision of Options Counseling and improved transitions in care to decrease preventable re-hospitalizations and support individuals to remain successfully at home. A major component of this grant was the piloting of a volunteer Community Supports Navigator program in Albany and Tompkins Counties, which supported older adults transitioning from hospital to home by helping them follow their post discharge plan and access the services and supports that they need.
- ADRC Evidenced-Based Care Transitions Program (2010): Assisted older adults with the transition from hospitals to home through evidenced based models, specifically, the Coleman model. The grant built on the ADRC model, which provides information and assistance with access to long term services and supports, which was an essential required component. Best practices from this program were used to help local Area Agencies on Aging to develop successful applications for the Affordable Care Act's Community Based Care Transition Program administered by CMS
- Chronic Disease Self Management Program (2009, 2010): Served community living older adults with chronic disease, engaged providers already delivering CDSMP in a statewide system, and built a regional infrastructure to offer and sustain high quality deliveries adhering to the fidelity of the CDSMP and other evidenced-based health programs. Among the deliverables was integration with NY Connects as a referral source.
- Lifespan Respite Care Program (2010): Developed a coordinated system of accessible, community-based respite services for family caregivers of children and adults with special needs. This program improved collaboration between respite providers and NY Connects programs.
- Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act for Beneficiary Outreach and Assistance (2010): Expanded, extended and enhanced outreach efforts to increase participation in the Medicare Savings Program and Low Income Subsidy Program, provide assistance with Medicare Part D and increase the use of preventive services for beneficiaries. Collaboration between the State Health Insurance Program (known as Health Insurance Information Counseling and Assistance Program or HIICAP in NYS), AAAs and NY Connects was required. Over the course of the two year grant, NY Connects assisted 4370 individuals with applying for Medicare Savings Program and 1584 individuals with applying for a Low Income Subsidy.
- Accelerating Sustainable Service Systems (2011): New York was one of four states to receive 2011 funding geared towards further streamlining access to home and community based services. New York will work with counties to create an integrated, evidence-based, and sustainable service system which is dementia capable for older adults, individuals with disabilities and family caregivers. Under this system, NY Connects will serve as the hub of communication and referral/linkages to services.
- Chronic Disease Self Management Education Programs (2012): Expand the local delivery infrastructure for CDSMP and its derivative evidence based self management education programs focused on specific chronic conditions such as diabetes. Expand NY Connects role as a referral and registration source. Under this grant, these programs are now offered to individuals with chronic disease(s) age 18 and over.
- Medicare Improvement for Patients and Providers Act for Beneficiary Outreach and Assistance (2013): NYSOFA was recently award a new grant to expand the collaborative work of NY Connects, HIICAP and the AAAs.