I met Yolanda Flahive on Sept. 18, 2015, while in Hawaii to host a Town Hall for our ‘Ohana Health Plan associates. It was my first time traveling to our Hawaii market in Oahu as WellCare’s CEO, and I wanted to make sure that I had an opportunity to really engage with our associates, members, partners and programs. One program I was determined to see in action was the state’s Adult Foster Care (AFC) program, which we administer for approximately 800 ‘Ohana members.
This program provides nursing-home level care in a home environment for those who are eligible for Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income. As part of the program, qualifying and fully credentialed families open their homes to someone in need and care for them as they would a family member. Services commonly include assistance with the activities of daily living such as eating, bathing and dressing, household chores, meal preparation, arranging for transportation, and providing social and recreational activities.
Relative to institutional care, AFC homes can be a cost-effective alternative for people to get the care they need, while staying active within their communities. In 2010, an AARP Public Policy Institute report found that there were nearly 19,000 licensed and certified AFC homes nationwide, with room to accommodate more than 64,000 people. Because they are located in existing, single-family homes, public sector costs are limited to the financial assistance needed to support those who qualify. Costs aside, many people simply do better in a home environment.
Yolanda is one of them. When I met her, she was 83 years old and battling dementia. Even so, I was told that she was better than she had been in many years. I listened as her caregiver and Donna Oshiro, who leads WellCare’s foster care efforts in Hawaii, told me about the progress Yolanda had made and how, without the AFC program, she may not be with us today. This hit home for me as I lost my mother 16 years ago, and it left a void that cannot be filled.
When I visited Yolanda again this June, she was having a great day. She smiled often and engaged in conversation as we looked through photos stored in a shoe box. Her progress since my first visit nearly a year ago has been incredible. This is why I am so energized by what we do at WellCare; when we truly engage our members we can make a meaningful difference in their lives.
I encourage you to watch Yolanda’s story and to follow WellCare’s blog. As a health plan with a mission to serve our members, and a singular focus on coordinating care for low-income families, seniors and people with disabilities, we understand the importance of raising awareness about issues that impact our members. WellCare’s 7,100 associates are driven by an unwavering commitment to help our members live better, healthier lives. This commitment – combined with the partnerships we have with our government customers, providers and community-based organizations – is the foundation for extraordinary outcomes like Yolanda’s.
My Story: Yolanda Flahive, ‘Ohana Member