Resource Library

COVID-19 Update: The John T. Gorman Foundation is curating a list of resources, emerging best practices, and innovative ideas from across the country to help local organizations serve vulnerable Mainers during the coronavirus outbreak. To access those resources, visit www.jtgfoundation.org/resources/covid-19 or enter Covid-19 in the keyword search. Those results can be further focused by using the “Filter by” menu above to filter by population type (Young Children, Older Youth, Families, and Seniors) or by clicking the following links: childcare, education, food security, housing, rural areas, and workforce.

The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.

 

How COVID relief funds continue to feed one California county’s seniors

August 11, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Food Security

In response to the uptick in pandemic-related food insecurity, California Governor Gavin Newsom supported the “Great Plates” program in Spring 2020, which used federal funding to purchase and deliver local restaurant meals to seniors facing food insecurity. With the recent expiration of funds for that program, San Mateo County has decided to leverage its own COVID relief funds to continue a variation on the program through the next two fiscal years. #covid-19 #foodsecurity

Social Security narrows wealth gap between high- and low-income households

August 10, 2021 – SeniorsWealth and Assets

A working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston presents a new conceptualization of household wealth that accounts for the patterned availability of wealth components across the population. Specifically, the authors extend the definition of wealth beyond market-based assets to also include estimated pension and Social Security distributions, which are critical elements of retirement-financing savings for many seniors. The paper finds that by including these resources in wealth calculations, the gap in wealth between the highest-income and lowest-income households, which is well documented with traditional measures, appears smaller when also including pensions and Social Security. Findings indicate that reductions in Social Security benefits would have significant implications for wealth distribution and for the economic wellbeing of the lowest-earning households in particular. #weath&assets

COVID-era remote patient monitoring supports at-home care for rural residents

July 14, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Health, Mental Health, Rural

In response to the pandemic, a Midwestern health system created a remote patient monitoring program that allows health care providers to monitor and advise patients without requiring an emergency room visit. The program includes vital-sign-monitoring equipment and a tablet equipped with video communication software, which only requires a cell signal and not internet access. Although the program was created to reduce hospital crowding and in-person exposures in the pandemic, providers find that not only do patients appreciate home-based care, providers are also able to more quickly identify changes in patient status given the ongoing monitoring. The additional benefit of easy check-ins also eases anxiety and loneliness among older adults living alone. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth #health

Evidence-based program strengthens multiple dimensions of senior wellbeing

July 8, 2021 – SeniorsHealth, Rural

The Rural Health Information Hub presents a summary of the StrongPeople™ programs, which have been under evaluation since 1994. The affiliated programs equip community-based health educators to lead classes on exercise, dietary skills, and civic activity to expand options for healthy living activities among older adults, particularly in rural places. Each element of the program has a substantial evidence base, with measurable improvements in physical activity, weight, strength, physical function, pain, depression, and other indicators among older adult participants. Companionship among group members is cited as a particularly favored element among participants. Interested community leaders can purchase training materials, then offer the programming to community members at typically low costs. #health #rural

Covid infections and deaths drop to lowest rates in a year

June 8, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Rural, Vaccination

New COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining in rural counties, and in all Maine counties except Somerset, cases are under 100 per 100,000 residents – the lowest they have been since the pandemic started. These numbers continue to decline with vaccination uptake and more people spending time outside, where the virus is less likely to infect others. While rural COVID-19-related death rates are declining, they still remain disproportionately higher than in urban counties. This is in part due to rural places’ greater shares of older adults and people with chronic illnesses, along with lower vaccination rates in rural counties. #covid-19 #vaccinations #rural

Providing more rural transit for isolated older adults can be cost-effective

May 21, 2021 – SeniorsMental Health, Rural Transportation

Researchers at North Dakota State University have published their U.S. Department of Transportation-sponsored cost-benefits analysis on public transportation for older adults. Specifically, researchers weighed the costs of expanding public transportation to increase mobility options with the benefits of reducing social isolation among older adults living in small urban and rural areas. Across 10 study states, they found that it was cost-effective to provide between 3-10 public transportation trips per month per isolated older adult; that is, the costs of providing this transportation were lower than the extra Medicare costs associated with isolation. #mentalhealth #rural #transportation

Rural seniors trail urban counterparts in vaccinations

April 20, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Rural, Vaccination

National Public Radio has analyzed county-level vaccine data from the CDC to examine rural-urban disparities. Analysis shows that the share of adults vaccinated in rural and urban counties is generally similar; however, among people age 65 or older, most states have higher vaccination rates in urban counties than in rural. In Maine, the vaccination rate for urban seniors is 4.5 percentage points higher than rural seniors. In only seven states are rural seniors more likely to be vaccinated: New Hampshire leads this trend with rural senior vaccination rates 5.8 percentage points higher than among urban seniors. This pattern of rural lags is especially troubling given the age structure of rural places: with older populations, and therefore greater shares of the population eligible for vaccination earlier on, rural counties should have higher vaccination rates overall. The article highlights the successes of certain rural places in the Southwest that have focused on collaborative, community-based networks to dispense vaccines, and encourages other rural places to utilize those models for outreach. #covid-19 #vaccination #rural

Health Affairs summarizes current landscape of philanthropy in long-term care services

March 21, 2021 – Families, SeniorsCOVID-19, Workforce

On their GrantWatch blog, Health Affairs published an overview of current philanthropy efforts in long-term care services, particularly to meet pandemic-era challenges and ongoing financing questions. Among recently-funded grants, the Tufts Health Plan Foundation is highlighted for awarding a large grant to Community Catalyst to engage older adults and family caregivers in the policy process and discussion of reforming the long-term services and supports (LTSS) system in Massachusetts. Newly published work is also featured, including a detailed report from PHI about the direct care workforce. A key recommendation in the PHI report is that both public and private sectors will need to invest significantly in improving direct care job quality and compensation in order to be able to recruit and retain sufficient workers for the growing service demand. Additionally, a new policy tool from AARP provides state scorecards measuring the performance of LTSS systems in each state. #covid-19 #workforce

Policy strategies to support and encourage older adults’ return to the workforce

March 12, 2021 – SeniorsCovid-19 Workforce

Alongside pandemic-era job losses, workers have also left the labor force all together, including for safety concerns, inability to find work, insufficient child care, and other caregiving responsibilities. Adults age 65 or older represent a disproportionate share of those exiting the workforce, with more older adults leaving the labor force in 2020 than in any year since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking in 1948. Many older adults who remain in the labor force have struggled with unemployment, reflecting that it typically takes older workers longer to find new jobs. Experts at the Urban Institute propose some ways that policymakers can support and encourage older adults to return to the workforce, including by funding dedicated supports for older job hunters through American Job Centers. Another strategy—especially relevant during the pandemic—is making workplaces safer, including regulating and enforcing COVID-19 vaccination and preventative measures. Finally, authors suggest that federal laws preventing age discrimination in the workplace be strengthened. #covid-19 #workforce

New research highlights effectiveness of telephone well-being checks for rural older adults

January 21, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19, Rural

Researchers in West Virginia describe their pilot model for connecting with older adults by phone in the pandemic. The team interviewed 124 community-dwelling residents, aged 75 or older, across four rural West Virginia counties about their wellbeing and material needs. The authors found that 97 percent of interviewees expressed preference for telephone contact over other methods. Further, 14 percent of calls resulted in an intervention by the research team, including helping interviewees schedule emergency home repairs, supplying medical equipment, or scheduling urgent health care appointments, with the greatest need for support among the oldest residents and those with two or more chronic conditions. The authors suggest that systematically telephoning rural older adults is an effective and low-cost outreach strategy for service providers. #covid-19 #rural

Policy priorities for promoting equitable and high-quality health care for older adults

January 21, 2021 – SeniorsWorkforce

New research published in Health Affairs identifies six policy priorities for improving the quality and equity of health care for the diverse, growing cohort of older adults in the United States. The first set of policy recommendations center around creating a capable health care workforce through additional training for current care workers and scholarships, loan forgiveness, and internship opportunities for emerging professionals. Next, authors recommend that Congress consider healthy aging as a critical component of public health efforts through the CDC, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and state and local health agencies. A detailed set of recommendations on remediating health disparities, expanding end-of-life care, balancing care delivery approaches including telehealth, and reforming long-term service and support structures are also included.

Unfamiliarity with health system “patient portals” a barrier for vaccinating people over 65

January 15, 2021 – SeniorsCOVID-19

Results from the University of Michigan’s National Poll on Aging suggest that more than 40 percent of older adults do not have an account with their health care provider’s online portal system. Gaps in portal utilization were widest by income: 54 percent of adults in households with incomes below $60,000 reported not having portal access, compared with 35 percent of those with higher incomes. This is particularly relevant as public health authorities and care systems are likely to utilize these portals for broader outreach as vaccinations become more available. The poll director, an infectious disease physician at the University of Michigan’s academic medical center, suggested encouraging older adults to enroll, or to call their provider’s office to identify training and support opportunities if technology is a barrier. #covid-19