Fair Share Support Services:  Integrating Housing and Health

Fair Share Support Services (FSSS), the social services arm of FSHD, is at the forefront of a national movement to integrate housing with supportive wellness services in low-income settings as part of an innovative effort to contain healthcare costs.

The goal of our program is to allow the senior residents of our Northgate II complex to age in place in their own homes, surrounded by their treasured belongings and supported by an internal network of neighbors and staff who know them well. Our wellness work helps to improve the health and functional ability of our elderly tenants in order to avoid, minimize or forestall the likelihood of institutional placement in a nursing home.

Frank Ivey

“It is always good for outside resources to come in to offer health classes for people who need help,” Frank says. “If it wasn’t for the wellness program, residents would not be getting the proper care. It’s a blessing.”

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We have also built a comprehensive support network for our other residents (people with special needs and families with children) as they rise to overcome the many health challenges that are associated with the trauma of living in one of the poorest, most violent cities in the nation.

Our staff includes a Social Services Director, two full-time social workers, a community health worker (thanks to a grant from the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine), a full-time Jesuit Volunteer (a college graduate who donates a year of service as part of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps), as well as a number of social work interns, medical school interns and other volunteers.

Our program features an Assisted Living program (through Caring, Inc.), healthy cooking classes, a congregate lunch program, exercise classes, weight loss support groups, chronic disease self-management workshops, supplemental food programs (through Twilight Harvest, a partnership with the Food Bank of South Jersey), and massage therapy, among other programs, which not only help our residents feel better about their lives but can also lead to significant medical savings due to fewer emergency hospitalizations and, in some cases, a decline in prescription drug needs and their related costs.

The transformation of our social services program began in 2011 when FSSS became part of a nationally recognized pilot program that aims to transform how healthcare is delivered in urban settings and attempts to bend the cost curve with regard to Medicaid spending in New Jersey. Our partnership with the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers led to the launch of the first Medicaid Accountable Care Organization in the state. The goal of this demonstration project is to enhance the health and well-being of low-income seniors, people with special needs and families in Camden by providing primary, tertiary and hospital-based medical services through care coordination coupled with preventive care and social service supports. Learn about the history of this important partnership.

Data analysis by CCHP has shown that too many Camden residents have been “super-utilizers” of local hospitals because they lack access to primary and preventive care doctors and nurses who can help them manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and obesity, not to mention deal with less serious conditions such as head colds, ear infections and sore throats. Medicaid costs for these largely preventable ER visits have been extraordinarily expensive – running in the millions of dollars.

The wellness program at Northgate II targets our residents according to their healthcare needs:

Our wellness program and partnership with CCHP has wide-ranging policy implications for New Jersey and the nation because it offers an innovative care management model for high-needs/high-costs Medicaid patients. Interest in this program has already garnered coverage in The New Yorker, PBS’s Frontline, CNN, WHYY radio as well as local and national newspapers and TV news.

Fair Share Northgate II is working in collaboration with the Rowan Medical School to assess the health and well being of our residents. We conduct comprehensive health, psychosocial and functional assessments on the senior and disabled residents who live in the Northgate II high-rise building.