San Juan County’s seniors say services are lacking throughout the islands. The results of a survey of San Juan County Residents over the age of 70 were released by the Inter Island Healthcare Foundation on Dec. 9.
“In August and September of 2019, thanks in part to donations from county residents, the Foundation commissioned a survey of county residents to determine the extent and magnitude of unmet needs for community-based long-term care services in San Juan County,” IIHF members said in a press release. IIHF is a charitable organization that, over the years, has sought solutions to the islands’ health care concerns.
The survey included a total of 393 county seniors and found that 37 percent of respondees said they had a difficult time trying to access long-term care services in the islands. Orcas and Lopez residents’ needs were being met even less, with more than 50 percent of respondents saying services were not available.
“Overall, San Juan County’s seniors are healthy and vibrant, with more than two-thirds of survey respondents self-reporting good to excellent health,” members said in the release.
According to IIHF, 29 percent of survey participants reported having no health care conditions or needs. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they have at least one condition or need but most still noted they are in good health and more than a quarter said they have three or more conditions or needs.
“This same group was more likely to report poor health or declining health. Importantly, they or their caregivers reported high use of Emergency Departments, frequent hospitalizations, and higher use of the ambulance service within the prior 12 months,” members summarized.
The most frequently identified service needs of seniors in the survey included assistance with cleaning, cooking and transportation; medication management and personal care; home safety checks; blood pressure monitoring; and availability of assisted living.
“Any final solution must address both cohorts of our seniors: Services to help our healthy vibrant residents stay healthy for extra years, and services to assist our frailer elderly residents in remaining safely in the community,” members wrote.
IIHF applied for a grant through the Health Resources and Services Administration to “formalize governance and organization structure to proceed with an analysis of long-term care options in San Juan County.” If the grant is awarded, the funds will be available in spring 2020. For more information about the HRSA grant, visit https://bit.ly/2seHTyj. To learn more about Inter Island Healthcare Foundation, visit http://www.interislandhealthcare.org/. To view the survey summary, visit https://bit.ly/2Ebom4g.