Empowering Incarcerated Older Adults to Be Partners in Their Care
Empowering Health Care Consumers
April 30, 2021
For NYSHealth, health equity is achieved when all people have the opportunities and resources they need to be as healthy as possible and no one is disadvantaged.
But in practice, patients—particularly people of color—are often marginalized rather than placed at the center of the health care system. Although all patients should be valued as partners, patients of color can face unique obstacles, including racism, bias, mistrust, and gaps in communication between patients and physicians. Engaging patients of color is an important step toward the development of a more equitable health system. To help ensure that patients’ priorities, preferences, and experiences guide efforts to create a more equitable health care system, NYSHealth issued a Request for Proposals (RFP), “Patients as Partners: Advancing Equity.” Through this RFP, NYSHealth is supporting projects that seek to implement system improvements, practice innovations, or interventions designed to give patients of color a meaningful role in their health care. In 2021, NYSHealth awarded the Osborne Association a grant to participate in this initiative.
Under this grant, the Osborne Association will work to improve health care and outcomes for older adults in New York State correctional facilities. Racial inequities pervade all aspects of the justice system, and poor health outcomes are disproportionately suffered by people of color. The Osborne Association will build the capacity of incarcerated older adults to act as partners in their care and make the correctional and reentry health care systems more responsive to their needs. It will provide health education and self-management trainings on a range of topics, including common ailments, healthy aging, geriatric issues, COVID-19 and vaccine education, and patients’ rights to care. Patients will also be trained to become more adept at using telehealth services upon their release. The telehealth training will be tested with formerly incarcerated older adults in the community, and adjustments will be made based on their feedback. The Osborne Association will also partner with the New York State Department of Corrections and Supervision to pilot a peer support program in which incarcerated older adults are assigned incarcerated aides who help with activities of daily living and provide assistance in developing effective communication strategies; identifying and reporting signs of dementia; and distinguishing dementia symptoms from rule-breaking behaviors. Finally, the Osborne Association will conduct education and advocacy campaigns to increase oversight of health care for older adults in prison and upon release, as well as improve geriatric training for correctional medical and security staff. Formerly incarcerated older adults will be recruited and trained to participate in these campaigns.