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Our Sponsor Spotlight this month is Care Manage for All LLC. Maggie Reeger, FaHN VISTA, interviewed Kim Evanoski, owner and President of Care Manage for All LLC.

About the Company:

Care Manage for All LLC is a private woman-owned care management company that serves 10 counties in Upstate New York and the Central Region. Care Manage for All LLC partners with families and takes a team-based approach in providing phone consultation, on-the-ground home visits and assessments, and education. Kim has been working in this field for over 25 years and uses a person-directed approach to build partnerships within a care management team. Her company is in its fourth year and has experienced tremendous growth in understanding our region and the gaps that exist in providing community-based care.

Providing education and sharing resources:

The education component of Care Manage for All LLC works with elders, individuals with disabilities, care partners, and families. Kim helps families manage tough situations in transitions of care management with elderly family members. Best practices include professional education and trans-disciplinary discussions with healthcare professionals to help them re-think how they interact with patients and provide care. “A lot of times we build structures around the disability, and that tends to be very quality of life limiting.  Focusing on the abilities is a much better focus that builds better health and care outcomes.”  Care Manage for All LLC focuses on a greater vision for elders. For individuals who have been retired for several years, goal setting for the future become the focus. This establishes a positive and proactive plan for care management. Changing the perspective to focus on what an individual can do, rather than what he or she cannot do, makes all the difference. It is a vital thread to the work of Care Manage for All LLC.

Kim has a strong focus on coordinating and sharing resources. “We are encouraging thoughtfulness on how we provide care by modeling this team approach, and that modeling comes from many, many years of observation and assisting families. My perspective is the community needs to own the care. We need to help our neighbors, friends and colleagues…to find structures in their community that produce better quality of life and better health outcomes.”

Finding cultural value through The Memory Maker Project:

In her work, Kim has noticed patterns of social isolation following a diagnosis of memory loss and dementia. To help address this pattern, Kim co-founded The Memory Maker Project with Christina Muscatello M.Ed.,  a project under the Center for Transformative Action, which is affiliated with Cornell University.  Within our community, “We have informal systems we can put in place that offer doorways and connections to a better quality of life.” The Memory Maker Project provides meaningful, interactive cultural access and advocacy programs for people living with memory loss and their care partners. They use the surrounding environment, community culture and artwork to help bring forward personal memories.  For example, during the holidays, The Memory Maker Project could coordinate an outing to see the lighted Christmas trees as an event. To find value, Christina or Kim may strike up a conversation about the trees to evoke memories of Christmas traditions. “We model the ways we can thread conversations for engagement with individuals who may experience memory changes by giving opportunities in offering us their life experiences and the fact that they have a lot of living still left to do.  We find tremendous value in this sharing.”

Barriers that exist in providing holistic care to the elderly:

Navigating the different care options available and potential outcomes is a complicated process. A major barrier within the health community is the time to spend with clients or patients.  Healthcare professionals often lack the time to discuss multiple options of care with each patient.  This is different with some care management companies.  “My job is to really listen to what your goals are and the things that are important to you, and to help prioritize and work through some of those items.” Care Manage for All LLC acts as a liaison between healthcare professionals and the individual who needs care by translating health care information into understandable terms. Kim is a palliative care provider and works with individuals and families to help them better understand options for their care and choose the plan that works best for them. “As collaborators to the larger care system, we have to figure out how to build those very important bridges so individual and families feel they are making good decision-making so treatment or using services matches that person’s life goals.”

Healthy food access among the elderly:

Kim works with many individuals who have co-morbidities (multiple chronic diseases) who may be homebound or have mobility issues. For those with limited income, it can become a choice between food, medication, or heating for the month. A fourth component that Kim is noticing more often is property tax expenses. Access to fresh food can be a challenge for elders, especially with recent cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels. SNAP benefits may not suffice in paying for many fresh fruits and vegetables either. Social and mobile isolation among chronically ill elders is often paired with poor nutrition, which then leads to increased health issues. Building stronger community connections can help the health outcomes of elders with limited food access. “[If] we develop networks around getting healthy foods into their community through whatever structures we find are most beneficial…that could be a very powerful piece in sustaining that person’s health.”

Within the larger framework, Kim feels that policy changes and increased funding to provide homebound elders with fresh fruits and vegetables should be explored. Good nutrition is an important component of preventative care and puts an individual at less risk from declining in health or having a hospitalization.  Potential methods of increased food security and nutrition for the elderly are physician screenings. A simple question of what patients are eating can answer the question of their access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

On community collaboration and looking ahead:

The interrelated fields of food and health are a core component of Kim’s vision for her company, care management, and the community at large. “The term ‘interrelated’ is a really important one. We don’t exist as a single entity. We are made up of our community, and at large, we are interrelated as people…in our food sources, our living, in our relationships, in our mobility…and why wouldn’t we have that perspective as we age? It’s a very important cyclical process.”

Kim therefore finds value in supporting FaHN through a sponsorship. “We’re very aligned to the same goals of a long good healthy life! Our communities of care can only benefit from us thinking about collaborating further on how we’re going to help our aging communities and how we’re going to support that process.”