Hamilton County program helps seniors stay in their homes

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

June 3, 2015
Contact: Laurie Petrie, Communications Director, 513-345-3393 or C-513-616-7873

The Hamilton County Elderly Services Program served 5,399 seniors last year, according to the program’s annual report. The program provides Meals on Wheels, housekeeping help, medical transportation, personal care (such as help with bathing), and other basic services that help disabled older adults remain independent in their homes.

The report was prepared by Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio (COA), which administers the Elderly Services Program under contract with Hamilton County Commissioners. The full report is available on the Reports and Data page of COA's website.

2014 program highlights
Cost savings through competitive bidding: Council on Aging, the program’s administrator, implemented changes within the program’s provider network and service offerings, resulting in significant cost savings for the program and more consistent service delivery for clients.

  • Through competitive bidding, reduced the number of contracted providers for emergency monitoring systems from six to one. In Hamilton County, the estimated cost savings is more than $1.3 million over five years. 
  • Combined four home care services into one (called home care assistance), sought bids based on cost and quality, and ultimately reduced costs by an estimated $318,100 annually.

Waiting list reduced: Hamilton County ESP has had a waiting list since 2013. At one point in 2014, it numbered more than 1,000 people and the program had to close temporarily to stay within budget. By contacting every person on the waiting list, COA staff were able to remove the names of people who no longer needed the program. Sometimes their health declined and they went to a nursing home or, for others, their health improved. Additionally, COA has been enrolling people in critical or emergency need. As of June 3, the waiting list stands at
362 people.

Win-win for seniors and taxpayers
On average, Hamilton County ESP can provide in-home care services for $383 per month, per client. These services can delay or prevent nursing home placement, where the taxpayers’ cost for Medicaid is on average $5,000 a month, according to the report.

Client profile
The program’s typical client is a woman in her 80s. She lives alone on a modest income of about $19,300 annually, from which she pays $2,844 in out-of-pocket medical costs. From ESP, she receives an electronic monitoring system, a daily home-delivered meal, and several hours a week of housekeeping help. ESP also added grab bars in her bathroom. These services, combined with help she may already receive from family or friends, is enough to help her live independently in her home.

Other highlights:

  • Average client age: 80. 55 percent of clients were age 80 or older. 
  • 74 percent of clients were female
  • 54 percent of clients lived alone
  • 78 percent of clients had annual incomes of $23,340 or less
  • 30 percent of clients helped pay for their care via a co-payment
  • Of those who disenrolled from the program in 2014, more than half did so because their needs were able to be met in some other way, or they remained on the program until they died.

Other services for Hamilton County seniors
Hamilton County seniors are also served by other Council on Aging programs:

  • PASSPORT and the Assisted Living Waiver are in-home and community-based care options for Medicaid-eligible adults and seniors. These programs served 1,952 Hamilton County residents during FFY 2014. 
  • The Ohio Home Care Waiver is an in-home care option for Medicaid-eligible children and adults (under age 60) who have significant disabilities and/or mental health needs. COA served 204 Hamilton County residents in FFY 2014. 
  • MyCare Ohio is a managed care program that coordinates health care, behavioral health services, and long-term care services and supports for Ohioans who receive both Medicare and Medicaid. MyCare Ohio went into effect June 1, 2014. COA served 1,886 Hamilton County MyCare Ohio members in FFY 2014. 
  • Care Transitions is COA’s health coaching program for hospitalized adults age 60 and over. The program works to prevent unnecessary and costly hospital readmissions and emergency department visits. Since 2012, more than 10,000 patients from nine regional hospitals – including The Christ Hospital; Mercy Health: The Jewish Hospital, Anderson Hospital, and West Hospital; and the University of Cincinnati Medical Center – have participated. 
  • Council on Aging’s Aging and Disability Resource Center (call center) responded to more than 37,000 inquiries for help in FFY 2014. 
  • Through Title III of the Older Americans Act, Council on Aging administers funding for senior centers and organizations that provide services such as transportation, meals, caregiver support, legal help and wellness education.

The state of aging in Hamilton County
For the first time in US history, people age 65 and older outnumber children under age five. In general, three factors play a role in determining whether or not we will need care: age, disability and income. In Hamilton County, according to the 2010 U.S. Census:

  • 13.3 percent of the population is age 65 and older
  • 35.4 percent of people age 65+ have a disability
  • 19.4 percent have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty threshold (2014 Federal Poverty Level for one person = $11,670. 150 percent of Poverty Level = $17,505).

About Council on Aging
Council on Aging of Southwestern Ohio (COA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life for older adults, people with disabilities, their families and caregivers.

We promote choice, independence, dignity and well-being through a range of services that help people remain in their homes for as long as possible.

COA is a state-designated Area Agency on Aging, serving a 21-county region. One call to COA links people to the wide variety of agencies, information and programs that serve older adults and people with disabilities.

175 Tri County Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45246
513-721-1025 Toll-free 1-800-252-0155