2021 Best Practices Awards
The Commonwealth Council on Aging sponsors the annual Best Practices Award Program to target organizations serving older Virginians and their families. The awards are given to innovative programs and services that assist older adults to age in the community. The Commonwealth Council on Aging aims to recognize creativity in services, such as livable communities, home and community-based supports, transportation, housing, caregiver supports, intergenerational programming, and more. The Council believes the door is wide open for creative best practices.
♦ The Commonwealth Council on Aging is pleased to announce the winners of the 2021 Best Practices Awards ♦
FIRST PLACE AWARD ($5,000):
Bay Aging (BA) Stable Foundations for Older Adults Experiencing Homelessness
Focusing on housing as the foundation for successful outcomes of older adults, BA’s housing opportunities provide safety and stability for older adults experiencing homelessness, ensuring that the plethora of support services can be maintained to increase positive outcomes.
BA has bridged the gap between Area Agencies on Aging (AAA) and the homeless services’ Continuum of Care (CoC) to provide diverse housing opportunities for people exiting homelessness. In 2018, BA’s age- and income-restricted rental housing worked with the local homeless services’ CoC, the Northern Neck Middle Peninsula Housing Coalition, to develop a homeless preference. BA was the first U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly owner/manager to be approved to implement a homeless preference in Virginia.
BA can quickly identify older adults experiencing homelessness and match the person to unique housing that meets their needs, limiting the amount of time that someone spends homeless, reducing trauma, and regaining health measures. Once transitioned into permanent housing, older adults benefit from health assessments, Meals on Wheels, employment training, assistance with mainstream resource applications, insurance counseling, and transportation. This multidisciplinary continuum is poised to make homelessness rare, brief, and nonrecurring, while supporting older adults at every stage of independence.
Since 2018, 31 new tenants have moved into BA’s housing, and an additional 189 older adults have been served by BA’s homeless response system. The average wait time for placement in BA rental housing currently is 59 days, a 25% decrease since 2018 when the program started. Of the 31 older adults served by BA’s housing, only one has exited to an unknown location, evidence of sustained positive outcomes of tenants.
SECOND PLACE AWARD ($3,000):
Jefferson Area Board for Aging (JABA) Friends in Schools Helping (FISH)
JABA has been serving the needs of seniors and their families in Charlottesville and five surrounding counties for 45 years. Since 2004, FISH has been JABA’s intergenerational school-based mentoring program that provides volunteer mentors to students who need individualized attention. The FISH program recruits, screens, and trains volunteers to help students with reading, math, writing, STEM, and art, as well as often working with English learner students and assisting children with their emotional well-being. Students working with FISH mentors demonstrate improved academic achievement, confidence, social skills, and trust.
FISH mentors now serve all across JABA's service area, including Charlottesville City and Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, and Nelson counties. The FISH program serves students in a variety of settings, but due to COVID-19, mentoring moved to a virtual format with one-on-one or small groups. During the 2019-2020 school year, 58 FISH volunteers provided support to over 1,370 students in 21 schools, and reported providing over 2,250 hours of individualized mentoring attention to students, a value of over $61,000 to the local communities. Looking ahead, the FISH program is excited to welcome 22 new volunteers and several returning FISH volunteers to provide vital support to students during the pandemic.
THIRD PLACE AWARD ($2,000):
Inova Health System Medical House Calls (MHC) Program
The MHC program provides in-home primary care services to older adults above the age of 65 and who are homebound. MHC opened its doors in 2017 and has continued to expand the provision of quality in-home care services to our community ever since.
MHC’s mission is to allow older adults to receive care in their most comfortable environment, their homes. This also helps to support caregivers, reduce caregiver burden, and increase the overall wellness of patients and their support system. Through an interdisciplinary model, patients receive quality medical care, including coordination of in-home diagnostic testing and wraparound services such as social work support. The MHC program currently serves approximately 700 older adults throughout most of Fairfax County, Alexandria, and areas in eastern Loudoun County.
In 2020, MHC performed just under 9,000 encounters with patients. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHC program has seen an extensive increase in in-home care services. Between January-March 2021, the Medical House Calls program administered 1,260 doses of the COVID vaccine resulting in a total of 655 vaccinated homebound older adults and family caregivers in our community. Looking ahead, the MHC program will soon be expanding to support Medicaid patients and uninsured members in the community, building on a steadfast commitment to ensuring that all community members have access to quality healthcare regardless of their ability to pay.
The Council gave honorable mentions to the following organizations:
- The Art of Healthy Aging Forum & Expo by Senior Services of Southeastern Virginia, Norfolk
- Virtual Center for Active Adults by Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood and Community Services and ServiceSource, Fairfax
- Home Repair Program by Appalachian Area for Senior Citizens, Cedar Bluff
- Calling Angels Friendly Caller Program by Arlington Agency on Aging
- Benefits Enrollment Center by Senior Connections, The Capitol Area Agency on Aging, Richmond
- Virtual Social Visitor Program by Volunteer Solutions, Fairfax
With the support of Dominion Energy, the Council is pleased to offer monetary awards to the winners. This year, the First Place program received $5,000, the Second Place program received $3,000, and the Third Place program received $2,000. The Council thanks Dominion Energy for their ongoing commitment to and support of this initiative.