The Covid-19 pandemic has hit us hard but for seniors, who are particularly vulnerable to the virus, the stakes are even higher. What can we do to ease their burden? Brand New Day, a Medicare Advantage prescription health plan available in 12 California counties, counts a disproportionate number of seniors among its nearly 50,000 members and experts from the program say that those with relatives or neighbors 60-plus should step up to the plate during this time as doing so can prove life-saving.
“Key to ensuring the health of seniors, particularly during the pandemic, is making sure that their basic needs are met, which includes having an adequate supply of food and medications on hand,” explains Brand New Day Executive Vice President Jay B. Davis. “Also paramount are staying in regular contact with them and helping them maintain their sense of purpose.”
Davis says that the principles set forth by Brand New Day’s partnership with Wider Circle, a community-care program that connects and unites older adults for better health, are good examples to follow.
“Wider Circle has proven to be one of the most valuable resources for our members,” he says. “Since we’re living in a time of social distancing, it’s really important that we stay connected with them and let them know that we value them as human beings.”
Darin Buxbaum, a Stanford University alum who founded and runs Wider Circle, agrees.
“Sometimes the mere act of getting out of bed can seem daunting and that only reinforces the sense of seclusion and hopelessness,” explains Buxbaum, who says that Wider Circle aims to remove isolation barriers, bring together familiar neighbors to inform, support and motivate one another and to ultimately empower them to be more proactive about their well-being. “I can’t stress enough how uplifting a simple phone call can be. Start out by asking how they are doing then see if they are on any kind of daily regimen like waking up at the same hour, having breakfast at a certain time, engaging in some sort of physical activity, etc. It’s also helpful to ask them about their hobbies, talents or passions.”
Since maintaining personal space is critical at this time, Buxbaum says some seniors are familiar enough with social media platforms like Facebook to keep in contact with close family members and friends.
“I only make that recommendation with the caveat that many posts only capture the most exciting time in the lives of our friends and family. For some, being exposed to such images on a regular basis can make them feel inadequate — that they are missing out on life,” explains Buxbaum. “Restricting time on the platform and using it to communicate with loved ones is key. There’s also YouTube, which is an excellent way to enjoy their favorite shows or find DIY videos that can come in handy.”
Among the services offered by Wider Circle during the COVID-19 pandemic are making welfare check-ins on members with special attention to those at highest risk, making sure members have a safe home environment, offering access to healthcare providers via telehealth service providers ike Teladoc, delivering healthy food to qualifying members’ homes, facilitating virtual group platforms where members create meaningful connections and share information with one another and buddy check-ins, which are peer-to-peer calls allowing neighbors to check on each other and report any issues to their local facilitator.
Brand New Day offers a number of specialty plans in addition to its standard Medicare plan. They include:
· Embrace Plan — for members with heart disease, and/or diabetes
· Bridges Plan — for members with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients
· SelectCare Plan — for members who reside in long-term care (nursing homes) facilities
· Harmony Plan — for members with mental illness including major depression, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, bipolar disorder and paranoid disorder
The plans cover transportation to and from medical appointments; vision, and dental; 24-hour/day nurse and physician line; and health nurses and life coaches.
Brand New Day is the Medicare product name of Universal Care, Inc., a privately held California Knox-Keene Healthcare Service Plan licensed by the California Department of Managed Health Care and contracted with the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services as a Medicare Advantage contractor. Universal Care, Inc. is owned and operated by an experienced group of managed care executives and physicians. Universal Care, Inc. was founded in 1983. For more information, visit BNDHMO.com or call (866) 255-4795.
About Wider Circle
Wider Circle works with health plans nationally to deliver a unique community care program that connects and unites older adults for better health. Centered around trusted relationships and through its technology platform, Wider Circle connects health plan members with familiar neighbors to inform, support and motivate one another, empowering them to be more proactive about their health. Using trained and culturally competent facilitators to engage seniors in a trusted delivery network, Wider Circle’s community care model has proven to reduce hospitalizations, drive better health outcomes, and lessen social isolation. Today, Wider Circle, in partnership with community sponsors and health plans, offers its unique neighborhood care programs to more than 135 communities nationwide, including specialized COVID19 support for seniors in isolation via virtual programming and peer-to-peer community support.