2022 HAPI Grand Prize Winner
In the Jinsong region of Chaoyang, Beijing, more than 3,500 older adults aged 80 and above live in apartment complexes. They were all built in a similar pattern and do not have elevators, making it difficult for many of them to get out and about freely. While younger generations can easily hop online to order food or access various services, those 80+ residents are less likely to have that option. They still rely on traditional channels to access services such as homecare, meal deliveries, or securing medical appointments. To help address this challenge, a local community elderly care organization, Longzhen Senior Care, developed the One-Stop Community Elderly Service Program.
The mission of the program is to provide an age-friendly solution to older adults or those with disabilities, so that they can receive convenient and compassionate daily living services. Through the use of liaisons, eligible older citizens can select the services they need. The services offered by the One-Stop Program became even more important during the pandemic, as staff and volunteers worked to ensure that older adults were getting their daily necessities and care services.
For example, after suffering a stroke, 83-year-old Mr. Li had trouble with activities of daily living (ADLs) and struggled to get downstairs and walk to a barbershop by himself, but the local barbershops do not provide in-home service. Longzhen One-Stop Community Elderly Service Program organizes haircut events twice a month in the community-based elderly care center, so with the help of his liaison and other volunteers, Mr. Li was safely transferred to the center to enjoy a nice haircut service.
So far, the program provides a wide range of goods and services, including adult daycare, assistance with chores, respite care, medical supplies, counseling, emergency alert responses, home-delivered meals, information and referrals, legal assistance, home medical therapeutic services, shopping assistance, personal care, and other community-based services. In addition to improving the older clients’ quality of living, the integrated services network also benefits the services providers. By joining the network, local small businesses can increase sales and save on marketing expenses. As this age-friendly program develops, more local services providers and small businesses apply to join the program network. Longzhen Senior Care is able to negotiate with the service providers to offer discounted rates for older clients, and to oversee the services to ensure they are provided with quality and compassion. The service itself is nonprofit, and there is no management fee. For those eligible, more than 50 percent of all services cost are covered by the governmental and clients’ social insurance.
Longzhen Senior Care opened its community-based elderly care center in 2017 in this region. In 2018, the social organization started providing home-based care services for older adults aged 80 and above or those with disabilities. Home caregivers and the staff of Longzhen’s marketing department worked closely to evaluate each client’s ADLs and IADLs (instrumental activities of daily living) before making care plans. The idea of the one-stop community elderly services was first brought up as a part of the overall marketing plan, since it helps build trust between the caregivers and potential long-term care resident clients by offering them extra services. The following year, the program created its “Sunflower Volunteer Team,” which includes dozens of local citizens and community leaders who serve as program liaisons. The social workers and volunteers played key roles as the program developed, and Longzhen provides training and builds team culture to help them better understand their meaningful work. By 2021, more than 1500 older adults from the Jinsong region were using the program.
The program also holds monthly meetings by appointment with the clients and family members, or reaches out to them by phone to ensure that their problems and concerns are being heard directly. They also conduct feedback surveys to ensure that they are satisfied with the services and making progress. For example, a survey of 800 clients found that at the start of the program, 65% had eaten the leftovers from lunch for dinner, and 85% did not know how to use their smart devices to order food. One year later, 97% reported having different meals for lunch and dinner. The weekly check-ins with the liaisons also give older people a friendly ear to listen to problems, and even someone to reach out to in emergencies. The program’s staff was able to help three clients who were in the early stages of a heart attack or stroke, arranging for quick transport to the local emergency room.
By working closely with their clients and creating a curated network of services in the community, the Longzhen One-Stop Community Elderly Service Program allows older residents to age in place in a way that is both comfortable and comforting.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
- Priority is placed on allowing older people to choose the lifestyle with which they feel comfortable, not the one that the service provider thinks that they should have.
- Building trust between liaisons and older clients is key—home caregivers and community leaders the older person already knows are able to serve as volunteer liaisons, working with the organization’s professional staff.
- Careful analyses are done of the community’s needs and of each individual’s needs; social workers conduct a case analysis with others and then develop an individualized plan.
- The program headquarters is in the heart of the community, convenient for older clients to find it.
- Close collaboration with the local government, community health centers, and hospitals ensures that health needs of older residents are met.
- Carefully curated network of service providers based not only on the quality and price of their goods and services but also their willingness to provide them compassionately.