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Care Connection: Helping Older Adults Access Assistance

Mid-Continent Public Library, MO
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Innovation Summary

Mid-Continent Public Library partnered with the Truman Heartland Community Foundation to create Care Connection, a community-made, business listing site for older adults and their caregivers. The website provides listings and reviews of businesses providing services and/or discounts for older adults, including: home health, senior programs, and housing options.

Innovation Leader: Susan Wray, Assistant Library Director, swray@mymcpl.org

Problem Statement

The 2010 Census showed that there will be a dramatic growth in the population of Baby Boomers reaching retirement age in MCPL’s service area. As this population ages, the need for services aimed at older adults will increase greatly. Much of this information is needed quickly without much forewarning of the need. Everything from medical care to home modification can become instantly necessary, but resources for quickly finding and reviewing possible providers are scattered at best. The quality of information provided online about many of these services is poor and difficult to navigate for many seniors. Often caregivers don’t have time to start the lengthy search for services or may be unable to properly review needed services due to their proximity. One place where information is often compiled is in large binders assembled at senior centers and retirement homes. These large and cumbersome collections provide information such as listings of senior care centers, recommendations for home nursing staff, or even funeral planning services. However, these collections are still far from comprehensive and are in no way connected to one another. Additionally, anyone wishing to use one must be physically present to do so.

Innovation

As a way to respond to this informational need, Mid-Continent Public Library and the Community for All Coalition for Eastern Jackson County established Care Connection to bring together those disparate binder-bound compilations of resources hiding on senior center shelves. Care Connection is a web resource that provides nonprofit and business listings and consumer reviews of such services as caregiver programs, home health services, legal assistance, transportation, financial assistance, volunteer opportunities, and veteran support services. Any business, organization, or individual may submit a listing to be included in the database. Businesses are placed into the active database by the Truman Heartland Foundation’s Community For All Ages committee which vets each organization or individual. Approved applicants receive a page on the site that lists general business information, designates the area served, denotes for-profit or not-for-profit status, and gives sample fees for services. It also features a Google map and places the applicant in a category of service. Most importantly, each page collects and displays vetted customer reviews. These reviews will help those using the site to further refine their search and pre-screen potential service providers.

Progress

Care Connection launched recently, but is already receiving strong interest from service providers. As public awareness of the site increases, we expect to see significant use of the service across our area. Feedback from partners who serve seniors has been very positive. The service ultimately aims to become the preeminent regional resource for information on services for older adults. We expect to serve not only seniors themselves, but also those seeking services for loved ones or clients.