Alameda County Care Alliance - A Faith-based Advanced Illness Care Program™
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In 2014, five denominationally diverse African-American Pastors in Alameda County recognized increasing problems with serious health concerns among their congregants and poor integration of spiritual concerns into health care. In response, they created the Alameda County Care Alliance Advanced Illness Care Program™ (ACCA-AICP) a faith-based, person-centered, lay care navigation intervention serving predominantly African American adults with advanced illness and their caregivers in alignment with their spiritual and religious values. The ACCA extends capacity for advanced illness care beyond the traditional health delivery system, bridging the gap between the health delivery systems, community organizations and faith-based communities. The program is now in 14 African American churches in Alameda County and Contra Costa County.
The ACCA Alliance Advanced Illness Care Program™ addresses needs, provides trusted resources, and empowers persons needing advanced illness care and their caregivers in 5 big cornerstones: spiritual, advance care planning, health (physical and emotional), social and caregiving.
As the first community-led faith-based advanced illness care program nationwide, the Advanced Illness Care Program™ leverages key attributes of a diverse faith-led infrastructure that are critical for improving the care of persons needing advanced illness care and their caregivers, including trust, spiritual guidance, and access to health and other community services. The ACCA Advanced Illness Care Program™ 1) prepares and empowers faith leaders to proactively counsel their congregants through spiritual issues related to advanced illness, 2) deploys community care navigators to closely support persons needing advanced illness care and caregivers in the big five cornerstones , 3) supports and trains caregivers, and 4) integrates its services between hub churches and community resource organizations.
Through a series of 10 in-person and telephone interactions, ACCA care navigators, liaisons and ministers link persons needing advanced illness care and family caregivers to needed resources, including transportation and meal preparation, support for advance care planning, and to address identified physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. The Advanced Illness Care Program™ has helped over 2,200 persons needing care and caregivers. In the first year, Care navigators have identified and have made more than 1000 referrals to local resources, successfully addressing 80% of participants’ stated needs.
The AICP trains and deploys 12 care navigators and over 20 volunteer care ministers. As trusted members of church communities, care navigators/liaisons help congregants meet their advanced illness care needs and link them to resources (e.g., food, housing, transportation, social services, spiritual support, respite care, health care, palliative care, hospice) as well as provide them with tools, enhanced skills, and empowerment for communication with their clinicians and managing other needs.