ADRC Article in Newspapers

ADRC’s Work, because THEY ARE LOCAL, Save Our ADRC
The Governor’s 2015-2017 Budget proposal gives the Department of Health Services (DHS) the authority to fragment the services currently provided by our local Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC’s), thus destroying the trust and reliability that has been developed over more than a decade of service by these one-stop local resources. This fragmentation of ADRC services would result from the:
1) Elimination of the counties right of first refusal to operate a resource center (they are not even eligible to continue providing these services as a County agency)
2) Contracting out the ADRC services with private for profit, regional, or statewide providers that can pick and choose to do some or all of the ADRC services, and
3) Elimination of the consumer driven ADRC Governing Boards (no local voice).
With the loss of local ADRC’s and their experienced and knowledgeable staff, local citizens would be served by a generic, inexperienced and likely out of county agency or corporation.  Currently, every county in Wisconsin has a locally operated and governed ADRC. These ADRC’s are defined by a welcoming and accessible environment where older people and people with disabilities can obtain objective information, advice, and help in locating services and applying for benefits by experienced local people. For those people who are unable to visit the ADRC, staff are available to go to their homes or wherever they are (hospital, nursing home, etc.) to provide the same high level of service.

The importance of having a strong local presence with extensive local knowledge becomes clearer when one looks at the key functions of an ADRC.

Assistance in Finding Services – The vast majority of people utilizing the ADRC, need assistance in finding services that are locally based and the current ADRC staff are very familiar with the local resources and can easily connect citizens with those services that are locally available. These services include: in-home care, mental health treatment, home modifications, nutrition, transportation, respite, housing, vocational services, adaptive equipment, housekeeping, social/ recreational activities etc.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Options Counseling – This is a critical part of ADRC work, which typically includes a face-to-face interaction about locally available long term care options. For some people, the ADRC is the only place where they will get objective information about the various LTC options in the area. ADRCs work with individuals and their families to explore the various options, and subsequently assist them in making informed decisions about their long-term care. This assistance is what helps people conserve their personal resources, maintain self-sufficiency, and delay or prevent the need for more expensive long term care.
In a 2013, an evaluation of LTC Analytical Research concluded that one of the ‘key drivers’ of customer satisfaction was “helping to navigate the system”. In that same evaluation, LTC Options Counselors were consistently rated between good and excellent. In a 2010 survey of ADRC users, 91 % of respondents said “the ADRC staff person was knowledgeable about the program choices available to me” and 93 % of the customers said “they would recommend the ADRC to others”.

Preventing Nursing Home Admissions – This essential and complex ADRC function requires extensive local knowledge. It often involves a series of face-to-face conversations with the person, his/her family, local providers, and others, and requires patience and the ability to inspire trust when the family situation becomes emotionally charged. The ADRC staff help individuals and their families understand all of the options available to meet care needs and assist them in weighing those options carefully, before they decide to sell Mom’s house and move her to a nursing home. This essential function helps prevent nursing home admissions, which results in a substantial savings for Wisconsin taxpayers.
This essential function provided by the current ADRC’s and LTC system contributed to the drop in annual medical nursing home days from 8.8 million in 2002 to 5.7 million in 2012. This 35% reduction in annual Medicaid nursing home days saved taxpayers over $300 million/year. During this same time period, the number of older adults in nursing homes decreased by 9,000, thus reducing Medicaid spending on nursing homes from 62% to 31%.
Nursing Home Relocation – This ADRC function is equally as critical as preventing nursing home admissions. It requires regular outreach to local nursing homes to raise awareness of ADRC’s and the services they provide as well as interacting directly with nursing home residences who want assistance returning to the community. Developing and sustaining ongoing, positive working relationships with local nursing homes is critical to this function. When a resident is relocated back into the community from the nursing home, it results in a savings to the taxpayer for each year they remain in the community and not in a nursing home.

 

Personal Follow-up – The ADRC’s provides assistance to tens of thousands of contacts each year and a substantial proportion of them require personal follow-up by the ADRC staff. This follow-up ensures that they understood the information given and staff find that they continue to provide information on a myriad of other needs. The follow-up is most effective when it is personal and local.

Benefits Counseling – Elder Benefit Specialists and Disability Benefit Specialists not only help people establish eligibility for SSI, Medicaid, etc., but they also help people avoid evictions, access local food programs, obtain prescription drug assistance as well as other basic necessities that require local knowledge. Local ADRC’s experience a significant number of ‘walk-in’ customers who may not have access to ADRC assistance if there is not local ADRC to walk into.
Transitional Services For Students and Youth – ADRC’s play a critical role in helping families and young people with disabilities learn about their options once they are no longer in school. ADRC staff work closely with local school districts and vocation rehabilitation counselors to provide information and help with the transition to the adult LTC systems and benefits. The success of transition assistance depends heavily on the local relationships of ADRC staff.

 

Earlier this month Governor Walker issued a proclamation declaring May 2015 as Aging and Disability Resource Center month. In this resolution, the Governor acknowledges, “In 1998, Wisconsin became the first state to develop ADRCs, and has served as a model for national replication since 2003.”
A 2014 report “Raising Expectations”, released by AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the Scan Foundation provided a national score card, which places Wisconsin’s ADRC functions 4th in the country with a score of 64 on a scale of 0-70.
Wisconsin’s older adults, people with disabilities and their caregivers are counting on you to keep this current local ADRC model intact so access to local unbiased information and assistance from knowledgeable and trusted staff will remain available to them now and in the future.
We believe local is best. We believe trustworthy, unbiased information is critically important to the citizens of Wisconsin. We believe people know what is best for them and should have a voice. Please join the ADRC of Eagle Country Governing Board, serving the counties of Crawford, Juneau, Richland and Sauk in contacting your state representatives to preserve our communities’ local offices in Prairie du Chien, Mauston, Richland Center and Baraboo.
Becky Dahl, ADRC of Eagle Country Regional Manager
Robert Neal Smith, Chair, Rep. Elders, Cazenovia
Diane Brown, Vice Chair, Rep. Youth in Transition, Richland Center
Donald Seep, Rep. Richland County Board of Supervisors, Cazenovia
Bette Smart, Rep. Persons with Physical Disabilities, Mauston
John Wenum, Rep. Juneau County Board of Supervisors, Camp Douglas
Donna McGinley, Rep. Elders, Mauston
Tut Gramling, Rep. Sauk County Board of Supervisors, Baraboo
Vern Demers, Rep. Elders, Spring Green
Marjory Sheckler, Rep Crawford County Board of Supervisors, Prairie du Chien
June Leirmo, Rep. Elders, Ferryville

Contact:

1. Your State Senator
2. Your State Representative

Tell them how you feel about these proposed changes.

To find your state senator and representative go to:
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/ (type in full address in box under Find My Legislators on the right-hand side of the web page or direct comments to the members of Joint Finance via their individual email addresses – http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/2015/committees/joint/1384

For further assistance to reach your legislators contact Ingrid Kovars, Administrative Secretary for ADRC of Eagle Country at 608-649-5796
Source: The Wisconsin Long-Term Care Coalition, Keep Our Care at Home. March 2015

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