Author: Lara Stauning

National I&R Support Center Webinar: Strategies to Combat Social Isolation and Increase Support for Caregivers and People Living with Dementia

Thursday, May 20, 2021, 3:00-4:00 PM ET

Webinar Registration

As states across the country continue to reopen, organizations have a moment to look back, consider lessons learned, and think about changes moving forward with programs and services available to consumers. Join this webinar to hear how COVID has impacted caregivers and people living with dementia, how service delivery was adjusted because of COVID safety procedures, and which changes will remain in place when more programs and services can be offered in-person.

Presenter: Stephanie Balog, Associate Director Contact Center, Alzheimer’s Association


ADvancing States administers the National Information and Referral (I&R) Support Center. Funding is provided by ACL. The Center provides training, technical assistance, and information resources to build capacity and promote continuing development of aging and disability information and referral services nationwide.

Justice in Aging: Defending Against “Bad Behavior” Evictions in Nursing Facilities

Defending Against “Bad Behavior” Evictions in Nursing Facilities

When: Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET

Nursing facilities will often attempt to evict residents due to alleged “behaviors.” With few exceptions, these evictions are improper. Most “behaviors” stem from Alzheimer’s Disease or another dementia, and should be well within a nursing facility’s professional competence. In most cases, care planning rather than eviction is the proper response. It is important for advocates to understand common behavioral symptoms and ways of addressing them. 

This webinar, Defending Against “Bad Behavior” Evictions in Nursing Facilities, will combine legal and dementia expertise. Legal services attorneys will discuss the relevant law and offer tips for representing clients facing eviction due to behavioral symptoms. Alzheimer’s Disease experts will discuss common behavioral symptoms and effective ways to deal with those symptoms.

Who Should Participate:
Attorneys, paralegals, and aging network professionals who serve older adults.

Presenters:
Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging
Stephanie Langguth, Attorney and Economic Stability Unit Manager, Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
John Funk, Community Educator, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter
April Stauffer, Community Outreach Coordinator, Alzheimer’s Association, Greater Kentucky/Southern Indiana Chapter 

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, June 2, 2021, 11:00 a.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. ET. 

Closed captioning will be available during this webinar. Capacity for this session is limited to 1,000 participants, and all participants will have the option of accessing audio through the computer or by phone. Please be sure to log onto the webinar a few minutes early in order to secure your place for the live presentation on Zoom. The presentation will be recorded and available for later viewing on our Vimeo page. Thank you for your understanding.

Register Here

HHS Announces Prohibition on Sex Discrimination Includes Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The Department of Health and Human Services announced yesterday that the Office for Civil Rights will interpret and enforce Section 1557 and Title IX’s prohibitions on discrimination based on sex to include discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in covered health programs or activities. Covered entities are prohibited from discriminating against consumers on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Discrimination in health care impacts health outcomes. Research shows that one quarter of LGBTQ people who faced discrimination postponed or avoided receiving needed medical care for fear of further discrimination.

The update was made in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Bostock v. Clayton County and subsequent court decisions. On June 15, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964’s prohibition on employment discrimination based on sex encompasses discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Bostock majority concluded that the plain meaning of “because of sex” in Title VII necessarily included discrimination because of sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Read HHS’ announcement.

If you believe that a covered entity violated your civil rights, you may file a complaint at https://www.hhs.gov/ocr/complaints.


Building Connections for Mental and Physical Health

Keri Lipperini, Director, Office of Nutrition and Health Promotion Programs, ACL

After more than a year of social distancing to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, we are more aware than ever before of the strength we draw from the people in our lives. We’ve missed sharing meals and activities at the senior center, easy conversations with a friend who stops by for tea, and casual interaction with staff at a movie theater or grocery store. Study after study shows that this kind of connection is good for our mental and physical health, and we are worse off without it. 

While older adults are particularly at risk, many of us have experienced how isolation affects our overall well-being. Recently, rates of depression, substance use, and anxiety have soared in all age groups. More than ever, we see the critical importance of access to behavioral health services. Older adults—especially those from marginalized communities—experience barriers to these services.

Identifying and overcoming these barriers to increase access to behavioral health services was the recurring theme at the Older Adult Mental Health Awareness Day (OAMHAD) Symposium on May 6, 2021. This was the fourth year that ACL, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collaborated to shine a light on the mental health of older Americans. After a year of adjustment, innovation, and pivoting programming amid the pandemic, aging experts and diverse community members shared personal stories about how they continued to connect and support each other while following social distancing precautions. 

They had a lot to share. 

Presenters at the symposium explained how the pandemic has increased awareness of long-standing inequities stemming from discrimination based on race, language, culture, sexuality, or gender identity. It has also made obvious—and more urgent—the need for providers and services that are multilingual, culturally competent, and representative of the communities they serve. There is also a pressing need for data on diverse communities and evidence for effective behavioral interventions to address social isolation, loneliness, and mental health.

One aspect of the symposium in particular touched my heart and really made me think about serious mental illness for older adults across the country. In the Lived Experience session, we heard personal stories of hope and resilience. Despite coming from a variety of places and backgrounds, these older adults shared common threads in accessing mental health services. They encouraged providers to hear them, listen to their issues, and focus on the individual in their care. I do not think there was a dry eye in the virtual room, as their words were simply inspiring. We need to continue to advance partnerships in this area.

The aging and disability networks continue to work to move initiatives and programs for mental health supports forward, all while developing new ways to reach out and connect with older adults during the pandemic. Acting ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging Alison Barkoff highlighted these efforts in her opening remarks at OAMHAD. “In the wake of COVID-19, our networks mobilized across the nation to ensure older adults had their most basic needs met, the ability to stay safe, and the opportunity to remain connected to their communities and one another.”

In countless ways, the aging network and partners have developed new ways to reach out and connect with older adults. Volunteers tucked notes into “contactless” home-delivered meals and other deliveries. Teams organized activities like intergenerational pen pals to keep people connected. Peer counseling, friendly visitors, and support groups switched from in-person meetings to video and phone conferencing. Memory Cafés geared for specific communities, like Korean Americans and LGBTQ+ older adults, continued to bring people and their caregivers together via Zoom for conversation, music therapy, and sing-alongs. Working with trusted partners like faith communities and libraries, organizations reached older adults who weren’t regular attendees at senior center events.

Through examples like these, as well as presentations and other comments shared at the OAMHAD Symposium, it is encouraging to see innovative ideas and promising practices exchanged. We continue to find new inspiration in stories from across the country and recognize the tremendous accomplishments of—and work still ahead for—older adults, communities, and the network.

As author, activist, and OAMHAD keynote speaker Ashton Applewhite pointed out, when we make the world a better place to grow old in, we make it better for all community members.

And it starts with connection.

Check Out a Great Resource! NCEA Provides Reframed and Translated Materials to Celebrate WEAAD

New WEAAD Materials Available!
As we near World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD) 2021, on June 15th, we celebrate efforts around the world to prevent elder abuse. The NCEA team is excited to announce NEW translated materials are now available! These materials are reframed with Reframing Elder Abuse Project communication tools which will help effectively spread awareness regarding elder abuse for all communities.   

Our communities are diverse and beautiful, all should have equal access to awareness materials. Language translation is an important support we can provide to educate all segments of our communities about how to prevent and address elder abuse. To celebrate communities around the world, we have translated additional awareness materials in Tagalog, Chinese, Vietnamese, Armenian, Farsi, Spanish, and Korean.   

View and share widely: https://ncea.acl.gov/Resources/Publications.aspx  

AARP: Elder Abuse in the time of COVID-19: Where are We Now? Featuring Paul Greenwood, 6/25 10-11:45 AM

Elder Abuse in the time of  COVID-19: Where are we Now?

Join us for a webinar focusing on how the pandemic has impacted elder abuse and hear from a panel of local experts how we are combatting elder abuse on a local level.  Featuring: Paul Greenwood, Former San Diego District Attorney and Expert on Elder Abuse

Register here: https://aarp.cvent.com/Stopabuse

ACL Policy Update: American Rescue Plan’s Additional Funding for Medicaid HCBS

ACL Policy Update: American Rescue Plan’s Additional Funding for Medicaid HCBS By Alison Barkoff, Acting Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

COVID-19 has taken its toll on older adults and people with disabilities in many ways. In addition to increased risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19, many also faced the serious threat of being forced to move from their homes into institutions — or were unable to return to the community from institutions — as the pandemic outpaced the capacity of our nation’s system of long-term services and supports. 

Demand for paid services spiked as informal caregivers became unavailable to provide support due to illness and physical distancing, and many community service providers had to reduce services or even temporarily close. That increased demand, along with illness and the safety measures to prevent it, have further strained a direct care workforce that was stretched to the breaking point before the pandemic. Providers have struggled to pay for personal protective equipment, overtime and hazard pay for their workers, who have been on the frontlines during this crisis. Although COVID-19 vaccines have created a light at the end of the tunnel, those challenges will continue well into our recovery.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the aging and disability networks have worked tirelessly to address those needs – finding new ways to deliver services and increase capacity, ensuring the needs of older adults and people with disabilities have been considered at every step of the COVID-19 response, and ensuring that the magnitude of the needs are understood.

As a result of that advocacy, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) included several provisions to help address these unmet needs. One of them is a temporary, but significant, increase in federal funding for home and community-based services (HCBS). Specifically, states can receive a 10 percentage-point increase to the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP) they receive for certain Medicaid expenditures for HCBS. This “FMAP bump” is available for one year, from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.

In a letter to State Medicaid Directors issued this afternoon, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) provided states with guidance for receiving the funding. The letter provides more precise details, but services and activities can be provided through a variety of different Medicaid HCBS programs, and a wide variety of services and supports that both older adults and people with disabilities rely upon are eligible. For example, states can claim additional federal funds for:

-HCBS waiver services
-Home health services 
-Private duty nursing
-Personal care services
-Self-directed personal care services
-Case management
-School-based services
-Rehabilitative services
-Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE)

Additional funding also can be used for a range of activities that help increase community living options. The following are just a few of the many examples described in CMS’ letter:

-Adding new HCBS services.
-Providing more of the same services to people who already receive them. For example,  providing additional hours of personal care services. 
-Providing services to individuals on HCBS waiting lists.
-Providing services that help people avoid institutionalization, or that help them return to the community from institutions.
-Supporting the direct care workforce through increased pay or benefits, recruitment and training activities, or expanding self-directed programs.
-Providing supports for family caregivers, including training and respite services.
-Providing assistive technology for people with disabilities, including internet activation costs.
-Assisting with access to COVID-19 vaccines, including scheduling appointments, transportation and in-home vaccination.
-Providing personal protective equipment.
-Expanding provider capacity for mental health and substance use disorders, as well as expanded rehabilitation services.
-Quality improvement activities.
-Some No Wrong Door functions, such as developing informational websites, automating screening and assessment tools, and conducting marketing and outreach campaigns.

(Note that services paid for through administrative match, such as those offered through the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program and certain No Wrong Door program activities, are not eligible.)

An important condition for receiving this funding is that states cannot decrease their own funding of HBCS. In other words, states cannot use the additional federal funding instead of state funds; the funds must be used in addition to the state’s own investments. They also may not cut HCBS services during this time. That means states may not eliminate covered services or reduce the amount, duration or scope of those services. In addition, they may not impose stricter eligibility requirements for HCBS programs and services than were in place on April 1, 2021 or reduce provider payments.

This funding is a lifeline for people with disabilities, older adults, and their families, and it will help service providers use lessons learned from the challenges of COVID-19 to strengthen access to, and quality of, HCBS for everyone who relies on these important services. The aging and disability networks, and the older adults and people with disabilities we serve, are important voices in the conversations states will have as they consider how to use this additional funding. We encourage you to make your voices heard!  For our part, ACL, together with CMS, will continue working with states and advocates to take full advantage of this unique opportunity to expand community living opportunities. Back to top

Governor Lamont Confirms Postponement of Nursing Home Strike Following Tentative Settlement Between Facility Owners and Healthcare Employees Union

Governor Lamont Confirms Postponement of Nursing Home Strike Following Tentative Settlement Between Facility Owners and Healthcare Employees Union

Posted on May 13, 2021

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that his administration has received copies of strike postponement notices to 26 nursing homes from District 1199, SEIU, and New England Health Care Employees Union. The notices follow news of a tentative settlement agreement between the union and nursing home owners that was reached with the participation and support of Governor Lamont and his administration.

Copies of the union’s strike withdrawal notices were received by the Connecticut Department of Public Health late this afternoon from nursing homes owned by iCare Health Network, Genesis Healthcare, and Autumn Lake Healthcare.

This agreement provides unprecedented wage increases for the nursing home workers who have shown their dedication to so many loved ones over the past year,” Governor Lamont said. “It also provides security for thousands of nursing home residents across our state. This agreement represents a commitment from the state and industry operators to ensure these workers are compensated fairly for their work, and a long-term commitment which provides predictability for both staff and patients.”

“We join Governor Lamont in welcoming this extremely good news, and thank him, Chief of Staff Paul Mounds, Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw and supporting staff for their role in helping the nursing home operators and the union representing dedicated, front-line caregivers reach this tentative agreement,” Connecticut Public Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Deidre Gifford said. “We are hopeful that a full agreement will soon be finalized.”

With the official receipt of the union notice postponing the May 14 strike, Department of Public Health has suspended its nursing home strike monitoring plan. Department of Public Health staff and Connecticut National Guard members had been scheduled to begin on-site monitoring at the 26 facilities. The union strike withdrawal notices to the 26 facilities reference a postponed strike date of June 7, joining a previously noticed date of May 28 for another 13 nursing homes. These are technically in effect, pending contract settlement between the owners and union.  

Read on CT.gov