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.

 

Covid infections and deaths drop to lowest rates in a year

June 8, 2021 – Seniors

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

Rural seniors trail urban counterparts in vaccinations

April 20, 2021 – Seniors

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, Seniors

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 – Seniors

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 – Seniors

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 – Seniors

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 – Seniors

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

Tribal nations focus on protecting elders to preserve culture after immeasurable losses to COVID-19

January 12, 2021 – Seniors

With COVID-19 killing Native people at nearly twice the rate of white people, the loss of tribal elders has spurred a cultural crisis for many tribes. With many tribal cultures reliant on oral tradition and few remaining speakers of native languages, tribal nations are worried about the cultural annihilation that comes with losing elders to COVID-19. To mitigate this threat, tribal leaders and nonprofits are working to reach and protect those most in need. Strategies have included delivering groceries and hygiene supplies to elders, training young people to monitor their grandparents’ vital signs with tribe-distributed thermometers and oxygen meters, and prioritizing tribal elders at the front of vaccination queues. However, vaccination efforts among this group are complicated by the fact that many tribal elders live in very rural communities without transportation. Importantly, these elders also experience deep mistrust of the government and medical institutions, seeded by long histories of forced assimilation, medical experimentation, and other brutal acts of racism. #covid-19 #racialequity #seniors #rural

Nutrition risk, not rurality, associated with falls among community-dwelling older adults

December 16, 2020 – Seniors

A study published in Innovation in Aging assessed nutritional status and rural residence as predictors of fall risk among community-dwelling older adults. Using health assessment data collected by a community organization for Medicare beneficiaries in Vermont, the authors found that high nutrition risk was associated with 50 percent greater odds of future falls. In contrast, rural residence was not significantly associated with a higher risk of future falls. These findings suggest that initiatives serving community-dwelling older adults may benefit from including nutrition evaluations in fall risk assessments. #rural

Research on seniors in rural areas finds isolation and program barriers contribute to food insecurity

November 16, 2020 – Seniors

New research from Indiana University finds that isolation and program barriers contribute to food insecurity among older adults in rural areas. Data were collected via public convenings and a survey of 5,000 households in lower income census tracts in four rural counties of Indiana. Results showed that seniors living alone felt less motivated to prepare balanced meals and found less enjoyment in eating. Seniors who lived and ate with family members or ate in congregate settings reported higher enjoyment of meals, a diffused (and therefore decreased) burden of food acquisition, and increased motivation to eat better. These results are especially salient, given additional findings that the share of seniors feeling isolated has risen steeply, from 7 percent pre-pandemic to 61 percent at present. Findings also echo many previous studies in noting that SNAP and other nutrition programs that require paperwork or travel present barriers to participation. Researchers suggest that a ride-share network could be a cost-effective way to enhance seniors’ access to food sources and programs, although safe implementation in times of social distancing is complicated. #covid-19 #foodsecurity #rural

Different definitions of “aging in place” have distinct policy implications

November 4, 2020 – Seniors

A new review of academic literature explores the nuance of “aging in place” and its many conceptualizations in research and policy. Seven different definitions of “aging in place” are identified and each has distinct policy implications. For example, if aging in place refers to “never moving”, then policies might focus on home modifications and accessibility adaptations to their current homes, as opposed to the construction of new housing types for seniors. If “aging in place” refers to “having choices” and emphasizes individual autonomy, then policies might do better to focus on promoting a range of housing options and care environments.

“Green House” nursing homes far less impacted by COVID-19 than traditional facilities

November 3, 2020 – Seniors

Nursing homes and long-term care facilities have been the sites of notable COVID-19 outbreaks. However, “Green House” nursing homes—a nontraditional and less-institutionalized long-term care model—have reported far fewer COVID-19 cases and outbreaks. Green House facility residents are one-fifth as likely to contract COVID-19 as those living in standard nursinghomes. For example, a Green House residential facility in Northern Virginia called Goodwin House has not had a single case of the virus. Another facility in Florida, the Woodlands at John Knox Village, has only had one reported case. In addition to Green House facilities being structured more like homes than hospitals, employees also receive higher pay and more time for interacting with residents. Reported employee turnover is much lower at Green House facilities (just 8 percent) than the industry-wide 55 percent. However, these nontraditional facilities tend to be located in wealthier areas and few are Medicaid-reliant, meaning that these options are out of reach for many low-income seniors and seniors of color. #covid-19 #racialequity