Director: Gary Luft
Manager: Donnis Cowan
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About the Area Agency on Aging
Area Agency on Aging of the Heart of Texas (AAAHOT) is one of 28 Area Agency on Aging contractors designated statewide by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS).
AAAHOT provides access to needed social services, effective screening and assessment of individual needs, and advocacy for the older persons (age 60 and older) in our six-county region. Access services are provided to older persons and their family members’ or other caregivers.
Services provided directly by AAAHOT staff includes three core programs – benefits counseling, care coordination, and LTC ombudsman services.
AAAHOT also contracts with service providers throughout the region to provide nutrition (congregate and home delivered meals), demand transportation, medication management and assistance, caregiver support, and homemaker care.
Benefits Counseling Program
Rose Contreras, Benefits Counselor
Jan Enders, Benefits Counselor
The Benefits Counseling Program is directly administered by AAAHOT staff and provides one-on-one legal assistance services to persons age 60 and older and to any adult Medicare recipient regardless of age. Individualized counseling is offered to those in need of assistance with the Medicare Part D Prescription Drug program, Medigap supplemental insurance, Medicaid estate planning, advanced planning for retirement, health care services, Medicare preventive services, consumer issues and preparation of Advanced Directives. The program also provides group legal awareness presentations and group education for all ages through community presentations and special events to promote health and wellness, safety, and legal education.
Legal Assistance – provides counseling to individuals assisting them with Medicare Part D, Medicare benefits, Medicare Advantage Appeals, Social Security questions, and other benefit-related questions.
Legal Awareness – provides public events where information and documents explaining programs, benefits, and services are distributed to the attendees.
Care Coordination Program
Debbie Jones, Care Coordinator
The Care Coordination Program is directly administered by AAAHOT staff and empowers senior citizens age 60 and older and their family caregivers to maintain their independence, freedom and dignity by identifying needs and arranging social services required for living independently. The program is broad based and includes a variety of related short-term support service opportunities. Some of those needs may include homemaker, personal assistance care, respite care, home repairs/modifications, durable medical equipment and numerous other services, depending on the need.
Care Coordination Serving Age 60 and older and their caregiver – a case manager assesses the needs with the client and their caregiver and plans, arranges, coordinates, and follows-up on needed services. Services that can be provided are homemaker services, personal assistance, home repairs and/or modifications, health maintenance services and respite for their caregivers.
Homemaker – a case manager arranges for short-term services to provide housekeeping and home management, meal preparation, escort tasks and shopping assistance. This service does not allow any hands-on assistance.
Personal Assistancee – a case manager arranges for short-term services to assist clients with bathing, dressing, toileting, light house cleaning, and meal preparation. This covers hands-on assistance in all activities of daily living.
Respite – a case manager arranges for short-term relief to caregivers. Services are provided in the client’s home environment on a short term, temporary (6 months maximum) basis while the caregiver is unavailable or needs relief. This service also allows the caregiver to take care of themselves so they are better able to sustain care for their loved one over an extended period of time.
Home Repair/Modification – a case manager focuses primarily on contracted repairs/modifications that improve accessibility, structure, safety and weatherization of the home for low-income homeowners age 60 and older that are living in unsafe and/or unhealthy environments.
Health Maintenance – a case manager arranges for the purchase of durable medical equipment that enables clients to be more independent and assists them with their daily activities.
Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
Susan McCombs, Manager
The LTC Ombudsman Program is directly administered by AAAHOT staff and is charged with the promotion of quality of care and quality of life for nearly 4,500 residents in 40 nursing homes and 27 assisted-living facilities in the Heart of Texas region. The program is authorized through the Older Americans Act and advocates for rights of residents as provided by state and federal laws. Residents of Long Term Care facilities may receive advocacy services and assistance from an Ombudsman whenever they encounter unresolved problems with the care or services they receive or whenever their rights are perceived as being violated.
A primary focus of the LTC Ombudsman Program is the use of an organization of 36 Certified Volunteer Ombudsmen (CVO). Each CVO is provided with state developed training on Long Term Care facility operations and requirements, aging issues and advocacy skills, with training that is in compliance with DADS requirements. The success of the program is directly impacted by the activity of the CVO’s. Each CVO provides services to residents in their assigned facility, or facilities, typically spending two or more hours a week at each nursing home or assisted living center.
Each Certified Ombudsman is dedicated to ensuring quality of care and quality of life for the residents. During the year the staff and volunteer Ombudsmen completed 1853 visits to 40 nursing homes and 27 Assisted Living Facilities and provided over 472 consultations to individuals or facility staff on subjects such as Medicaid Eligibility, resident behaviors and family issues. The program also investigated 711 complaints ranging in severity from verbal or psychological abuse, to poor nursing care. The complaints addressed most often related to care issues, which made up approximately a third of the complaints overall, with environmental and dietary issues around 10%-15% of the remaining complaints. The program was able to resolve or partially resolve over 90% of the complaints reported. An important part of the Ombudsman program is to establish and maintain a good working relationship and good communication with state surveyors. The staff and /or volunteers participated personally in all 28 state nursing home surveys in the region and routinely consulted with the investigators who visited facilities on complaints.
Donnis Cowan, Manager
Contract Services are provided by subcontractors or vendors in accordance with contracts or vendor agreements managed by the Area Agency on Aging to serve the senior citizens of the region.
The nutrition program is a core program of AAAHOT that is contracted rather than directly provided by AAAHOT employees.
AAAHOT subcontracts with four service providers throughout the region to provide nutritious meals to older citizens through congregate meal sites and/or home delivered meals. The service providers are closely monitored to insure compliance with all regulations concerning nutrition and program requirements. These providers operate 36 senior centers and nutrition sites located in the six-county region. The nutrition program is a key contributor to the health and well being of older persons participating in the program. The program also provides social interaction that is critical to good mental and physical health for the recipients.
In addition to providing meals at the congregate sites the subcontractors also prepare and deliver meals to the homes of isolated elderly who are unable to travel to the congregate sites and/or prepare meals for themselves. Home delivered meals, commonly referred to as “Meals on Wheels,” provide critical daily nutrition requirements while allowing the delivery person to make daily contact with the home bound elderly person.
The individual subcontractors are primarily funded by AAAHOT but each contractor is required to obtain additional funding from their local communities and clients for their specific program.
- Bosque County Senior Services: Sharon Gephart, Project Director
- Central Texas Senior Ministry: Melody McDermitt, Exec. Director (Falls County, Hill County and McLennan County)
- Freestone County Senior Services: Stephanie Overall, Project Director
- Limestone County Senior Services: Theresa Tilotta, Project Director
Caregiver Education and Training
AAAHOT subcontracted with Howard Gruetzner, PLLC to provide dementia related counseling to caregivers to assist in making decisions and solving problems relating to their caregiver roles. This included counseling for dementia related illnesses for individuals, support groups; and caregiver training for individual caregivers and families.
Aging Program Development
Jan Enders, Manager
Aging Program Development focuses on the identification and development of new programs/services and teh establishment of partnering relationships in the community that allows AAA to be more successful in meeting the needs of our seniors and clients. The scope of the initiative strategically strengthens our efforts, programs and services across the entire AAA with no restrictions to specific program areas. Activities include:
- Legal Awareness Events
- Education events