Trenton, NJ 08625-0360
April 26, 2000
TRENTON -- The Community Choice Counseling Program, initiated by Gov. Christie Whitman, has helped more than 950 nursing home residents return to the community and now the program has won high marks from those it has helped.
A survey of 107 Community Choice participants conducted by the Rutgers' Center for State Health Policy and due for release on Monday found 93% of those helped liked their current living situation better than the nursing home. Some 84% also said they could now do things that make their lives more enjoyable.
"Community Choice has been very successful in opening up options for seniors in nursing homes and those being discharged from hospitals," said Governor Whitman. "It's exciting to have confirmation that the program is working well and making New Jersey a better place for seniors to live with dignity and independence."
Community Choice is one of many senior initiatives included in the $65 million package of senior programs the Governor has supported in the last two budget years.
"While for some nursing home care is the best option, many seniors do better with in-home or community-based services and the support of family and friends," said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Christine Grant. "This program gives seniors choices on how and where they want to live."
Community Choice is a one-on-one counseling, referral and assistance program. A team of 40 social workers and nurses go into nursing homes and hospitals in all 21 counties to discuss housing and care options with seniors and their families. Seniors who are able and want to relocate are then helped through a number of in-home and community services and programs. All financial and medical requirements are fully explained to participants before services are arranged.
In-home services through Community Choice include case management, chore services, home health care, meal preparation or delivery, and medication management. Community programs include home modification, medical day care, transportation and respite care for caregivers. Housing options include returning to home or moving to a subsidized apartment, assisted living residence, residential health care facility or an alternate family care home.
Grant said the high levels of satisfaction among those served though the Community Choice Counseling Program could be attributed to the program's dedicated, professional staff. "It has also been successful because participation is 100 percent voluntary," said Grant. "We discuss all the options available and the senior makes the choice. Our goal is to ensure every senior we help is happy, secure and cared for in the most appropriate setting."
Community Choice began in 1998 and was expanded last year as part of the Governor's Senior Initiatives launched in the FY 2000 budget. When fully phased in over three years, these initiatives will provide $60 million annually in services and programs designed to help seniors remain in or return to the community rather than be cared for in a nursing home setting.
Gov. Whitman's FY 2001 budget provides $5 million in additional resources to help seniors live independently. This year's initiatives will:
Seniors who are in a nursing home or being discharged from a hospital and wish to return to the community, or their family members can speak with a Community Choice counselor by calling 1-877-856-0877. For more information on senior services, call your county NJ EASE office toll-free at 1-877-222-3737.
Reporters wishing to get more details on "Transitions to the Community: A Survey of Former Nursing Home Residents Discharged After Community Choice Counseling" should call the Center for State Health Policy, a division of the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research at Rutgers University. The telephone number is 732-932-7084, ext. 616.