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Ohio Department of Aging Aging Connection

Aging Connection

CONNECT TO | The Network
April 2010

Ohio's Front Door to Long-term Care
Helping Consumers Find the Services They Need

Ohio has developed a robust system of programs, services and supports for older adults and adults with disabilities. That system was built, in great part, at the local level through a variety of funding sources targeted at specific populations. As a result, when an individual needs help, it can be a challenge to know where to start and what to ask. As Ohio works to unify its long-term care system, it is building a "front door" to long-term care services that is intended to simplify how an individual learns about and accesses the services he or she may need.

Aging and Disability Resource Centers

Built on an Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) model, developed at the federal level by the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the front door philosophy capitalizes on the strengths of the local system of supports and programs that serve people in their community and develops ways for those systems to work better together. Simply put, the intent is to streamline access to both Medicaid and non-Medicaid long-term services and supports, using existing systems.

Ohio's front door is being built through collaborative efforts spearheaded by the area agencies on aging and includes county departments of job and family services, centers for independent living, 2-1-1 systems, information and referral providers, senior centers and other key partners. This approach recognizes that individuals access information through any number of organizations, depending on their preferences, comfort level and knowledge about what's available. Working together, these organizations ensure that individuals have access to quality information about the options available to them.

The collaborative efforts at the regional level include development of an infrastructure that provides access to comprehensive information about the options available, both for professionals assisting an individual as they search and for individuals who want to search on their own. That infrastructure includes a public database of information about programs and services. It also includes education about the available options and advice about how to navigate the service delivery system.

While the front door is part of the state's Unified Long-term Care Systems and Supports initiatives, it also will provide comprehensive information about other services and programs that divert people from Medicaid or at least delay their need for Medicaid support, such as employment help, disease prevention and health promotion, access to benefits, private pay services and planning for future needs.

The collaborative relationships necessary for a successful front door are in varying stages around the state. One example of such a partnership is between the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio, Inc. and the Ability Center of Greater Toledo, a center for independent living. They cross-train their information and referral specialists, giving both agencies an in-depth knowledge of the services that are available to older adults and people with disabilities.

When the front door concept is fully functional, information will be available via phone, online or in-person. Information will be public, user-friendly and Internet-based so individuals can research, learn about and select from options on their own, if that is their choice.

By working more closely together, all partners collaborating in the front door will be able to focus on what is best for the individual and respect that individual's right to make choices based on their needs, strengths and preferences.

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2010 Conference on Independent Living
Independence, Ohio - June 9 and 10, 2010

Due to the changing demographics of our communities, care and service providers will be challenged to meet all of the demands of our aging and disabled residents. Please join the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging at the 2010 Conference on Independent Living: Life With Purpose During Innovative Times to discuss uniting the aging and disability networks in Ohio communities to strengthen access to systems that serve both populations. Care professionals will explore innovative perspectives on how our communities can build, strengthen and increases access to service systems through collaboration between networks.

Technical Assistance Center for Caregiver Programs
The Technical Assistance Centers for Caregiver Programs and Lifespan Respite support state caregiver program development. As part of this effort, the Family Caregiver Alliance (FCA) has developed a monthly e-newsletter that offers timely information about best practices, key research findings and policy trends related to family caregiving, as well as training opportunities.