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A new model of care collaboration for community-dwelling elders: findings and lessons learned from the NORC-health care linkage evaluation


Corinne Kyriacou ,

About Corinne

PhD,Department of Health Professions and Family Studies, School of Education, Health and Human Services, Hofstra University,  Hempstead, NY 11549 USA, Tel.516.463.4553

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Fredda Vladeck

About Fredda

L.M.S.W., Director, Aging In Place Initiative, United Hospital Fund, 350 Fifth Avenue, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10118 USA, Tel. (212)494-0750

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Introduction and Background: Few financial incentives in the United States encourage coordination across the health and social care systems. Supportive Service Programs (SSPs), operating in Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs), attempt to increase access to care and enhance care quality for aging residents.  This article presents findings from an evaluation conducted from 2004 to 2006 looking at the feasibility, quality and outcomes of linking health and social services through innovative NORC-SSP and health organization micro-collaborations.


Methods: Four NORC-SSPs participated in the study by finding a health care organization or community-based physicians to collaborate with on addressing health conditions that could benefit from a biopsychosocial approach. Each site focused on a specific population, addressed a specific condition or problem, and created different linkages to address the target problem.  Using a case study approach, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative methods, this evaluation sought to answer the following two primary questions: 1) Have the participating sites created viable linkages between their organizations that did not exist prior to the study; and, 2) To what extent have the linkages resulted in improvements in clinical and other health and social outcomes?  


Results: Findings suggest that immediate outcomes were widely achieved across sites: knowledge of other sector providers’ capabilities and services increased; communication across providers increased; identification of target population increased; and, awareness of risks, symptoms and health seeking behaviors among clients/patients increased.  Furthermore, intermediate outcomes were also widely achieved: shared care planning increased across providers; continuity of care was enhanced; disease management improved; and self care among clients improved.  Finally, several linkage partnerships were also able to demonstrate improvements in distal outcomes: falls risk decreased; clinical indicators for diabetes management improved; and inappropriate hospitalizations decreased.


Discussion: Using simple, familiar and relatively low-tech approaches to sharing critical patient information among collaborating organizations, inter-sector linkages were successfully established at all four sites.  Seven critical success factors emerged that increase the likelihood that linkages will be implemented, effective and sustained: 1) careful goal selection; 2) meaningful collaboration; 3) appropriate role for patients/clients; 4) realistic interventions; 5) realistic expectations for implementation environment; 6) continuous focus on outcomes; and, 7) stable leadership. Focused, micro-level collaborations have the potential to improve care, increasing the chance that organizations will undertake such endeavors.

How to Cite: Kyriacou C, Vladeck F. A new model of care collaboration for community-dwelling elders: findings and lessons learned from the NORC-health care linkage evaluation. International Journal of Integrated Care. 2011;11(2):None. DOI:
Published on 09 May 2011.
Peer Reviewed


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