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Arnold School of Public Health


Office for the Study of Aging commissioned under existing Medicaid Planning and Training Contract to conduct training for all SC Prime providers

January 6, 2015 | Erin Bluvas, bluvase@sc.edu 

As one of only 16 states selected to design new coordinated care approaches for seniors (65 and over) who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, South Carolina needed to develop a coordination program and train providers on how to use it. Leading this initiative, the SC Department of Health and Human Services created the Healthy Connections Prime (Prime) program to merge Medicare and Medicaid benefits under a single health plan. Then they asked the Arnold School’s Office for the Study of Aging to train providers on how to implement it.

Through this contract, the Office for the Study of Aging provides training for all SC Prime providers who will be operating in the state. These organizations will deliver and manage the coordinated services and benefits to individuals who enroll in the Prime program. The Office will train the partners and providers on the delivery of services, training, materials and managed-care best practices. They will also help shape the dually-eligible service delivery.

Working under the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, the Office for the Study of Aging has been perfecting their training and facilitation skills since it was founded in 1988. They have trained more than 20,000 professional and family caregivers with their Dementia Dialogues program—10,000 of whom are now dementia specialists after completing the five-session course. Twenty-four of these specialists have gone on to become Certified Dementia Dialogue Trainers and are now delivering the program throughout the state.

The Office has a long history of grants, contracts and collaborative partnerships related to their education, technical assistance and evaluation services. Some of their other trainings include person-centered planning, strength-based exercises, elder mistreatment prevention, caregiver coaching and recruitment/retention of direct care staff. They also serve the community through co-hosting symposia and conferences (e.g., Caregiver Conference), conducting aging related research and housing the state’s Alzheimer’s Disease Registry—one of only three in the U.S. and the most comprehensive.

“Although the Healthy Connections Prime program has just begun, we have spoken to individuals who have told us they plan to use our courses as the base of their entire organizational training,” says Director Brenda Hyleman. The Office has already hosted their first in-person Prime training (their second Prime training to date) and is well positioned to provide the support these partners and providers require.

The Office for the Study of Aging has already established its role as a leader in training caregivers and the community in dementia and Alzheimer’s care. This addendum offers the logical next step to expand their expertise to health insurance programs. Visit their website for more information about their partnership with Prime and the trainings they offer.