Update on Mental Health in Aging Program at Gracedale

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In January 2019, Lamont McClure and the Department of Human Services (DHS) launched a pilot program for Mental Health and Aging (MHAP) at Gracedale Nursing Home to provide services for older individuals with mental illness. The goal of the program was to enhance the daily life of seniors, help them maintain their residency in approved facilities and provide technical assistance for care providers.

“This may be the first program of its kind to be tested,” says Lamont McClure. “So far, it’s proving very successful, delivering huge benefits to families struggling to keep their elderly relatives in safe and secure housing where they can access the care they need.”

The County of Northampton contracted with Haven House to provide services under the MHAP program including one-on-one counseling and support to address behavioral challenges. Some Gracedale residents suffer from trauma, depression or anxiety, others just struggle with the transition to a Long Term Care facility. Counselors from Haven House offer support to both residents and their family members and use a Recovery Adjustment questionnaire to monitor improvements.

At the start of the program in 2019, coordinators anticipated supplying support to no more than twenty residents. The services proved so popular that, in the last two years, Haven House counselors have served 297 residents and are currently handling 172 active cases. The program includes one behavioral specialist, four counselors and three Certified Older Adult Peer Specialists (COAPS). One of the COAPS is bilingual.

Since the inception of services, crisis calls are down by 58.6% and there’s been a 92% decrease in on-site crisis visits. In-patient hospitalizations (302s) are down by 94% and voluntary/involuntary commitments (201s) have decreased by 100%.

Gracedale staff have also found the program beneficial, especially after the nursing home had to close to visitors at the start of the pandemic.

“Having Haven House on-site to provide these services has been important for keeping both the resident’s and the staff’s mental health stable as we cope with COVID-19,” says Gracedale Administrator Jennifer Stewart King. “Residents are seen quickly because the counselors are in the building. We hope this program continues.”

Currently, the MHAP is funded by Gracedale and the County’s Mental Health department. The County is in talks with Magellan about reimbursement for the next fiscal year.

The MHAP program has been recognized by the Office of Mental Health and Substance abuse for its success.

Information provided to TVL by:
Becky Bartlett
Deputy Director of Administration
Northampton County Government Center
669 Washington Street
Easton, PA 18042