By Terry Fulmer and Nora OBrien-Suric
“The world of healthcare is slowly acknowledging what community-based social service workers have known for decades—health happens at home. Helping to maintain and sustain older adults’ highest possible level of functioning and the best quality of life has been the undertaking of community-based services. Yet, the medical world has little knowledge of the array of services that can and should be provided, which would not only complement medical care, but could help to improve it.
“A 2011 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation survey of 1,000 primary care physicians revealed that 86 percent felt ‘unmet social needs are leading directly to worse health’ across all socioeconomic groups, and that it is as important to address these factors as it is to address patients’ medical conditions.
“Healthcare System Must Address Social Service Needs
“To meet older adults’ health needs and support their well-being, the healthcare system, which encompasses hospitals and health plans, must address the critical social service needs that will ensure better health outcomes, including the need for adequate nutrition; transportation to medical appointments, the pharmacy and the grocery store; assistance with medications; personal care in the home; and caregiver support. To foster this integration in the new and fast-changing healthcare landscape, social service agencies must create business partnerships with the healthcare system to identify and integrate social services.”