October 4, 2019
By Sara Sinning
Meals on Wheels is giving local governments yet another compelling reason to make up for lost federal funding: Its app-based reporting system for elder neglect is saving lives and community resources.
Meals on Wheels America has long been the first line of defense against elder abuse and neglect for millions of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens. And now the organization is making an even bigger difference thanks to an innovative app.
How the Technology Works
Developed in conjunction with San Diego-based West Health Institute and Brown University’s Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research, the app allows Meals on Wheels volunteers across the country to get ailing homebound clients the care they need, when they need it.
“When Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers are equipped with simple, yet effective screening tools while on their deliveries, they’re better able to react to changing conditions in seniors’ physical and mental state or environment before a particularly harmful health event occurs,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, in a prepared statement. “This ability to respond in close to real-time can ultimately contribute to more agile coordination across medical and community-based service providers, improving outcomes and reducing costs.”
According to a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society back in June, the app is working exactly as intended. In the 12-month period during which the researchers studied the app’s use in two of the organization’s community branches, drivers submitted 429 alerts for 189 clients, resulting in 132 referrals for self-care, health, and care management services.
Senior Citizen Self-Neglect Is a Major Issue
State adult protective services agencies last year intervened in more than 142,000 cases of senior citizen “self-neglect,” situations in which seniors had become too physically or mentally incapacitated to safely continue their own self-care, the New England Center for Investigative Reporting wrote in USA Today.