Fahe and members Knox Housing Partnership (KHP) located in Tennessee, Randolph County Housing Authority (RCHA) located in West Virginia, and Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation (KHIC), were awarded a $300,000 Collaborative Model Grant from NeighborWorks America (NWA). The grant will help fund the second phase of our Elderly Initiative directed at improving the lives of elderly people in Appalachia by providing them with better health services both in home and out. The program is based off of the Support and Services at Home (SASH) model utilized by Vermont non-profit, Rural Edge, which has had great success in support seniors’ ability to age in place, living independently in their own homes.
The SASH model caught Fahe’s attention about a year ago. The idea behind the program is that there are many providers that serve the elderly but they rarely work together. By connecting service providers, we can help to provide all encompassing services, addressing the service gaps that exist when individual organizations work in isolation. For example, an in-home nurse or adult daycare facility may notice that their patient’s home needs repair to be safe/heatable in cold weather, a meal provider may see that an elderly resident needs a ramp to avoid falls/trips to the ER, or a doctor may recognize that her patient could avoid hospitalization if someone could simply remind them to take their medication. With the SASH model, improved agency coordination prevents small challenges from becoming life-threatening.
In the spring of 2014, Fahe held an aging summit in Kingsport, TN for members and other elderly service providers to learn about SASH directly from our colleagues from Vermont. Rural Edge’s executive director presented a current working model of the SASH program that has been hugely successful. As a result of the Summit, Elderly Initiative participants KHP, RCHA, and KHIC volunteered to pilot the SASH program in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
The SASH model works to increase resident stability, choice, and health, while reducing medical and related care expenses by merging community based long term care and supportive services with affordable senior housing. SASH is cost effective and provides an opportunity for residents to age in place with dignity while maintaining an independent living experience.
Fahe will work with each of the three groups to develop state-based advocacy blueprints that will outline potential program designs that take into account each state’s opportunities and regulations. When other organizations adopt the model, they can build on what has been working in their state and collaborate with groups already utilizing the program. For newer states that adopt SASH in Appalachia model, they can use the Blueprints and Fahe’s experience to develop SASH pilots in their states.
SASH in Appalachia wouldn’t be possible without the collaborative nature of Fahe’s network and other non-profits such as Rural Edge. The generous grant from NWA will allows us to explore several paths in this important initiative. We are very excited to be working with a great team finding creative solutions for Appalachia’s elderly.