2021 Community Champion Winner Benae W. Hogan
Middle Georgia Regional Commission Area Agencies on Aging are charged by the Older Americans Act with providing Case Management services to older adults and people living with disabilities. This service encompasses person-centered assessments, counseling, care planning, and connecting older adults to community-based resources. Working as a team, the Case Manager, participant, and their social support network generate goals and action steps to improve the participant’s quality of health and life through a focus on social determinants of health. For example, focus areas may include health insurance, financial resources, transportation barriers, building a social support system, adequate housing, chronic health conditions, and – essential to all life – food and nutrition security.
Benae Hogan, Lead Case Manager, Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging, is an exceptional model of a Case Manager in action. She is compassionate, resilient, knowledgeable, and knows when to empower self-advocacy and when to be hands-on. Throughout her 14+ years as a Case Manager, Benae has trained seven Case Managers for other Georgia Area Agencies on Aging, provided 153 assessment trainings for contracted service providers, successfully assisted over 99% of her 785 clients to sustain their social and health needs outside of a long-term care facility, and connected many participants to community services, especially nutrition programs.
Through Benae's extensive years of Case Management service, many participants were referred or connected to nutrition programs that changed the course of their lives. One recent example demonstrates how Case Management and nutrition programs together can improve the overall health and wellbeing of older adults and people with disabilities.
Recently, a local business made the Agency aware of an older adult selling his furniture with a statement that he had no income, no utilities in his house, needed food, and was not well. Through the implementation of Case Management services, it became apparent this person needed intervention immediately. After assessment by the Case Manager (Benae), many needs came to the surface. The older adult was not well and required immediate hospitalization. His house was without utilities, meaning there was no running water, electricity, air conditioning, or heat. He also had a rodent infestation problem. He had no income and needed to apply for benefits. And finally, he needed access to safe food immediately since he was eating dry-bagged pet food.
Since the implementation of Case Management services, his situation has drastically improved. Not only was the participant provided with daily home-delivered meals, but the home-delivered meals agency, seeing the need, provided a cleaning service to remove the litter and garbage from his home. This house cleaning provided a safer environment for him and reduced the opportunity for rodents to flourish and contaminate his food supply. The older adult now has water and electricity in his home, which was also cleaned of litter, garbage, and pests, and a new bed with linens for sleeping. Our team then helped established the man as patient with an outpatient medical clinic where he now receives routine medical care and ongoing medications.
In conclusion, not every Case Management participant will find themselves in this drastic situation. However, all participants have unresolved issues and needs that require assessment, information, an, in some cases, intervention. Having Benae as a Case Manager with her compassionate heart, passion for advocacy, and dedication to work with both clients and service providers alike sets the stage for overwhelming success.