FastTrack Home expands to Warren County, supports older adults and caregivers during COVID-19 pandemic
With a full-time job, three grandchildren to look after and an elderly father to care for, Shelley’s plate was full. When her father, Wayne, was admitted to a Warren County hospital, it threw her for a loop. Council on Aging’s (COA) FastTrack Home program provided support to help Wayne recover safely at home – at a time when Shelley needed to focus on her own health.
Wayne, 82, was admitted to the hospital after Shelley noticed a bad cough, shortness of breath and general weakness. At the hospital, Wayne was diagnosed with heart issues and COPD complications.
While he was in the hospital, the situation worsened. It was discovered that Wayne was COVID-positive and, without realizing it, had passed it to Shelley.
Shelley’s required quarantine period meant she would be unable to care for her father as he was being discharged home from the hospital. She worried about his meals, cleaning and personal care. “It was a very stressful and desperate time for me,” Shelley remembers.
Enter FastTrack Home.
FastTrack Home sets up temporary in-home care services (such as transportation, meals, personal care and homemaking services) before an older adult goes home from the hospital. While other COA programs require an in-home assessment and focus on meeting long-term needs, FastTrack Home assessments are completed at the hospital bedside and are designed to meet short-term, acute needs. This distinction is key because older adults have an increased risk of illness and injury in the 30 days following discharge from a care facility. With a speedy assessment and enrollment process, FastTrack Home services can be in place when the patient is discharged home.
In Wayne’s case, Savannah, one of COA’s FastTrack Home hospital coaches, worked with the hospital to make sure Wayne was not discharged over a weekend – when services are more difficult to arrange. She also arranged for an emergency food delivery the day Wayne arrived home and had regular home-delivered meals started the very next day. Within five days of Wayne’s return home, a home health aide began visiting to help with personal care and housekeeping issues.
Wayne’s FastTrack Home services were provided by COA through Warren County’s Elderly Services Program. The temporary services are designed to support a safe recovery at home. Before Wayne’s FastTrack Home services ended (a maximum of 60 days), he received a full evaluation for the Elderly Services Program and other Council on Aging programs. This process ensures continuity of care for older adults who need assistance beyond FastTrack Home’s 60-day window.
During the COVID-19 pandemic (March-September 2020), when nursing facilities have been hot spots for outbreaks and even deaths, hospitals and nursing homes in our region have referred more than 1,100 individuals to COA for transitional care services - like FastTrack Home - and other assistance. FastTrack home has been available in Clinton and Hamilton counties since 2017. In 2020, 902 older adults received care through FastTrack Home. The program expanded to Warren County in September 2020.
Shelley is very grateful for FastTrack Home – the support it offered her father and the peace of mind it brought for her. “Without FastTrack Home,” she said, “I don’t know what would have happened.”