Jewish Home Lifecare Launches Nursing Home-Based Geriatric Substance Abuse Program
The new initiative addresses the urgent need for a model of care that integrates addiction recovery into medical rehabilitation, also known as postacute care, for adults 60 and above. No facility in the country, including New York City, offers the twinned services, leaving hospitals struggling to find postacute locations willing to accept older patients with the dual need. Even facilities that accept these patients lack the expertise to tackle substance abuse. Patients ultimately return home with their physical problems resolved but their addictions intact, making relapse likely and creating an endless and costly cycle of rehospitalization (also known as readmission).
A Growing Crisis
Behind the numbers are the physical, psychological, and social changes that come with aging. Cognitive and medical conditions like dementia and bone fractures, common among older adults, are exacerbated by substance abuse. Older adults whose cognitive and/or medical problems have been compounded by addiction account for more than twice the number of hospital readmissions as adults without addiction issues.
Doctors often fail to identify substance abuse in this population because they are not trained to recognize it, they are embarrassed at having to screen older people for addiction, and they do not understand the role addiction plays in the medical problems of adults in this age group. To make matters worse, older adults dealing with addiction are much more resistant to treatment than their younger counterparts.
A Comprehensive Approach to Care
Similarly, when patients are ready to be discharged, the staff will work with each person and his or her family to make sure a support team is in place that draws on community recovery programs, thus giving the patient the greatest chance possible of long-term recovery.
Partnerships with local hospitals like Montefiore Medical Center and NewYork-Presbyterian, which often refer patients to Jewish Home for postacute care, will be essential to the success of the new program. Jewish Home has initiated outreach to other area hospitals as well, including Beth Israel Medical Center, Mount Sinai Roosevelt, and the VA Medical Center in the Bronx, and to Odyssey House, a program for older adults with substance abuse disorders.
“The Jewish Home Lifecare Geriatric Substance Abuse Recovery Program tackles a problem faced every day by our clinicians and by geriatric health care specialists around the country," says Gregory Poole-Dayan, associate administrator of Jewish Home Lifecare’s Bronx campus, where the program will be located. "With this integrated approach, we can offer truly comprehensive care to older patients dealing with both medical and substance abuse problems."
“We know from our own experience how acute the problem of alcohol and prescription drug abuse is among older adults," says Gary Kennedy, MD, director of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. "We also know that the kind of holistic approach being taken by Jewish Home offers the greatest chance of long-term success for these patients.”
The new program will be led by Steven Wollman, an addiction and mental health specialist who has worked with children, young people, and adults. Most recently, Wollman was the lead therapist and the creator and director of a substance abuse program for adolescents at Devereux Florida, part of the national Devereux Foundation, one of the country’s largest nonprofit providers of care for children and adolescents with emotional and behavioral disorders. Wollman holds master’s degrees in substance abuse counseling and education and in mental health counseling.
A History of Innovation
Source: Jewish Home Lifecare