New referral tools help professionals connect families to COA

Monday, July 18, 2016


Council on Aging is working to make it easier for community organizations such as fire departments, health care providers and social service agencies to make referrals for COA’s in-home care services. 

Professionals in these organizations play an important role in identifying vulnerable older adults and people with disabilities who need help with basic daily activities (personal care, housekeeping, meals and transportation) if they want to live independently.  They make referrals to Council on Aging via phone, fax and COA’s website. 

COA has created a new outreach tool for organizations that frequently make referrals.  A referral “RX pad” is available for fire departments, hospital social workers, doctor’s offices, skilled care providers and others to use if they are working with individuals or families that may benefit from Council on Aging’s in-home care programs.  The RX pad was developed with input from area fire departments and hospital staff. 

The RX pad is not an actual prescription for COA services.  It is designed to be used in two situations:

  1. when a professional plans to make a referral (by phone or COA’s website) on someone’s behalf and wants to have something to give the individual or family as a reminder that they will soon receive a phone call from Council on Aging; or
  2. when a professional does not plan to make a referral but wants to encourage the individual or family to contact COA to discuss care options

The RX pad can be used in conjunction with other COA fact sheets and brochures and aims to bring a sense of urgency or authority to discussions around accepting in-home care services. 

Copies of the RX pad – and other COA materials – can be requested for free by contacting Paula Smith at or (513) 345-3315. 

Later this summer, professionals will notice other changes to the referral process.  Behind the scenes improvements to COA’s website and other systems will improve the process for managing and responding to an increase in online referrals.  

COA has seen an influx of these referrals since launching an online form in March 2015.  The form allows professionals to make secure referrals to COA’s in-home care programs from any internet-connected device, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. COA has received more than 760 referrals via the form since January 1, 2016. COA has also begun using a dedicated referral email box, instead of a specific employee’s mailbox, to manage referral-related communications.  This change creates a secure environment where COA team members have shared access, improving referral response times. 

For professionals who use the online referral form, these improvements mean they will receive a secure email message as confirmation of their referral, instead of the generic thank you message that currently appears on their screen. This referral “receipt” is something many community organizations have asked for, and will include the name of the person in need of services, as well as the date and time the referral was submitted.  These changes will also apply to the Contact Us form on COA’s website. This change to the email receipt is expected to take effect later this summer.