Looking back over the past year, Family Voices Colorado has a lot to be proud of:
We served more than 11,500 families and 4,500 professionals from June 2012 to May 2013, through a combination of direct assistance, trainings, print and electronic resources, and our Family-to-Family Health Information Network.
As a result of assistance/training provided by Family Voices Colorado, 91% of families report being better able to partner with health care providers in decision-making, 97% report that they are better able to find and/or learn about community services, and 94% report more confidence in getting necessary health care and services for their child with special needs.
Our team works hard to support families through the challenging tasks of securing services and resources for their children, and we celebrate when evaluations demonstrate that we are achieving our goals. You can read more about the context for our work in this Colorado Data Briefprepared by Family Voices National.
In the last year, we have also launched two new program areas: Life Coaching through Your Life. Better. 24/7., and Health Coverage guidance through the Connect for Health Colorado Assistance Network. Through these programs, we are supporting young adults with behavioral health challenges in developing skills and making choices that will enable them to thrive, and helping individuals and families understand their options under the new health insurance marketplace.
While our mission continues to focus on children and youth with special health care needs, we have identified a need for greater support to families and young people through the first part of adulthood. The transition from pediatric to adult health care systems can be challenging for any family, and those who live with disabilities or complex medical needs often encounter even greater obstacles to securing the services and support they need. Our Guide for Transition (also known as the “Transition Wheel”) was released to guide families through the tasks for each stage of adolescence approaching adulthood, and is now available in several other states through the national Family Voices network.
Finally, we expanded the hospital-based Family Navigator program from one staff person at Children’s Hospital Colorado to three staff, two of whom are at Children’s and one at Denver Health. We envision continued growth in this area as we demonstrate the tremendous benefits to children and families when they can receive referrals to community-based resources and services before leaving the hospital.
As we look forward to the months ahead, 2014 looks just as promising as 2013. For the past several months, we have been developing plans for a new project that will provide Personal (electronic) Health Records (PHRs) to support greater care coordination for low-income clients. These PHRs will be owned by the individual rather than by their health care provider. The planning stage has been funded by a grant from The Colorado Health Foundation, and we will soon apply for funds to support the full implementation of this vision.
Other areas of focus in the coming year include:
Expanding our capacity to assist families, who are calling in ever increasing numbers
Continuing to make sure that families’ voices are heard in policy conversations
Helping families navigate Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act
As we gear up for another exciting year, we hope you will join us for Hearts on Fire, which in 2014 will be a special Valentine’s Day happy hour fiesta. Be sure to register now to get the best price on tickets! Whatever your romantic status that day, we hope you’ll come and “wear your heart on your sleeve” for children and youth with special health care needs.
As always, we are grateful for your continued support and partnership with Family Voices Colorado in so many ways. If you need help navigating systems, accessing services, getting health coverage, or building capacity for system change, please give us a call!
Four years ago, Family Voices Colorado received funding from the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing to start a pilot program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, in which a Family Voices staff member would be based at the hospital three days a week to help families navigate systems and connect with community resources. Sam Murillo was that Family Navigator for the first three years, laying the groundwork, helping hospital staff understand the unique gifts of the role, and working through challenges common to any pilot project.
Sam explains what makes family navigation unique:
“Navigation is a unique service delivery model that serves as a natural bridge from the health care setting to the community. It extends traditional care coordination, case management and social work roles by providing training and education on the various medical and non-medical systems to families and hospital staff. Navigation also provides direct advocacy as appropriate and needed in resolving systemic barriers. Together, all of these methods create an approach that honors the principles of true family-centered care.”
As the hospital navigation program celebrates its four-year milestone this August, Sam finds himself in a new role, as Director of Navigation Programs. The pilot project was very successful, with the navigation program recognized as an effective service delivery model and highly valued as part of the Neurology and Child Health Clinic teams. Dr. Carolyn Green, a physician in the Neurology Clinic, explained in a 2012 survey of hospital staff regarding the program,
“Having Sam in the role of Navigator not only eases the mental burden for the families but improves my ability to provide excellent medical care. Often I am sure a family would benefit not only in a social or financial way but also in a medical way by having access to community based resources, like the epilepsy foundation, which provide disease and treatment information. Although intentions are good to share that information, it is not feasible to cover all resource information during a visit. Often families need to process what they have been told at a visit before they are able to use some information and having a facilitator outside the visit time but inside the system is tremendous.”
And the project’s success is far more than anecdotal: in the four years since the Family Navigator program’s inception, the Neurology clinic reported a 32% decrease in emergency department utilization. In that same time period, the Family Navigator completed over 4,000 encounters with patients and families, on average seeing or talking with each patient/family about 20 times to connect them with the resources they need, to help them navigate systems and services, and to troubleshoot barriers and obstacles they encounter.
Thanks to Sam’s hard work and these highly promising results, the Family Navigator program has recently entered into a direct contract with Children’s Hospital Colorado, where a new Family Navigator, Colette Christen (who previously worked as the Resource & Systems Navigation Specialist, staffing our Provider Helpline), is now full-time in the Neurology Clinic, and Susana Herrera has moved into the role of Family Navigator for the Child Health Clinic. In addition, a separate grant has allowed the program to expand to Denver Health’s Special Needs Clinic.
Looking to the future, Sam has a vision of the growing, mutually beneficial relationship between Family Voices Colorado and health care providers serving families of young people with special health care needs:
“The navigation model not only amplifies the presence and awareness of Family Voices, but also increases the ability of specialty and primary care settings to meet the complex systemic needs of families. While FVC remains available to [hospitals] as a whole, many clinics have shown interest in creating a designated Family Navigator role as well. As we grow and build momentum, we are committed to an intentional planning process that will develop further infrastructure, standardization across environments, and best practice policies and procedures.”
Just one more way that Family Voices is making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs!
Making Colorado a better place for children and youth with special health care needs