LIGHT Program Offers Comprehensive Services to Lebanon Seniors
Many Lebanon residents, both caregivers and the at-home elderly, aren’t aware of the community resources that exist to support them and the challenges they face. Enter the Local Interdisciplinary Geriatric Homecare Team (LIGHT), a community collaboration to ensure that the frail elderly receive the care and attention they need.
This joint effort includes members of the Upper Valley Senior Center, Grafton County Senior Citizens Council, ServiceLink, and Dartmouth-Hitchcock Community Health. The LIGHT program works every day to connect families to community resources to help elderly people continue to live in their own homes.
Now in its third year, the mission of the LIGHT program is to provide respectful, proactive, person-centered care to older adults in our region. The team members accomplish this by partnering with each client’s medical team and with other agencies that serve them, providing a community-focused safety net for elders.
LIGHT is made up of three primary team members: Terry Fuller, a wellness nurse; Kappy Scoppettone, an outreach worker at the Upper Valley Senior Center; and Jane Conklin, a coordinator at ServiceLink. The team members provide person- and family-centered care through health assessments and education. They develop individualized care plans in coordination with the medical teams at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and Alice Peck Day, and receive support from community agencies to provide these services without requiring insurance or other payments.
Clients are usually referred to the LIGHT program by their medical team at Dartmouth-Hitchcock, by friends or neighbors, or through self-referrals. They often don’t have family in the area, and are living alone and on a limited income.
The team first addresses any urgent needs, such as coordinating medical care with family and physicians, and making sure that participants are safe in their homes and are taking medications correctly. Once immediate needs are taken care of, the team works to coordinate services such as Meals on Wheels, fuel assistance, navigating Medicare and Medicaid, scheduling medical appointments, and finding appropriate housing options as needed. The team aims to keep seniors in their homes and out of congregate care facilities for as long as is safely possible for each client.
While this is an issue that communities across the country are facing, it is of particular interest in the Upper Valley, where the senior citizen population is growing quickly. Roberta Berner is the Executive Director of Grafton County Senior Citizens Council. “We’re looking at a rapidly aging population. Over 20 percent of our population is over age 65, and in the Upper Valley that’s expected to rise to a third of the population by the year 2030,” Berner said. “We want to keep them engaged, healthy, and independent. The LIGHT program is providing significant help to the senior population in Lebanon.”
Christine Dyke is the partnership coordinator for Community Health Improvement at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. She said that the LIGHT program addresses a critical need in Lebanon by using the best available research information while also taking the individual client’s needs into consideration.
“We started this program because we were interested in an evidence-based model to help keep older adults living in rural areas in their homes. LIGHT is a pilot of the modification of a few programs to address the rural setting. We are using evidence based tools for assessment and data collection to ensure that the program is really working.”
The most crucial outcome of the LIGHT program is that the safety net allows seniors to have a better quality of life. “The big question is, are they safe and can they continue to be in this space? What services do they need and how can we help our clients get those services?” Dyke said. “The LIGHT program allows us to keep closer tabs on these clients and see the bigger picture of their overall well-being. We’re doing home visits to look at all their needs and social determinants of health, like if they have regular contact with other people or if they are showing signs of depression. We want to help provide stability in the last years of their life, and to make them good years where they feel connections in the community.”
For more information about the LIGHT program, contact Jane Conklin at (603) 448-1835 or firstname.lastname@example.org.