Just in Time: Program Gives Emergency Help for People with Disabilities in Alameda County, Calif.

The County of Alameda Social Services Agency (Oakland, Calif.) developed a "rapid response" program to provide emergency and short-notice personal assistance services—including help with meal preparation, toileting, bathing and light housekeeping—to people who are disabled.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) national program Independent Choices: Enhancing Consumer Direction for People with Disabilities, which was designed to foster the development of consumer-directed home and community-based services for people of all ages with disabilities.

Key Results

  • The project served 400 people, providing 1,441 home visits, coordinating transportation 40 times and providing information and referral 879 times. The most common services requested were meal preparation, help with toileting and light housekeeping.
  • Approximately 67 percent of calls were to request a replacement home care worker; 33 percent of calls were urgent calls that required immediate attention to avoid a negative health outcome (e.g., an accident or sudden illness).

Key Findings

According to the survey of consumers conducted by the program staff:

  • Rapid response use varied among consumers, with 46 percent of consumers using one or two visits, and 16 percent using 10 or more visits. Twenty-five percent of consumers used three to five visits, and 13 percent used six to nine visits.
  • Ninety-seven percent considered the type of services provided very important (91%) or important (6%).
  • Eighty-three percent said the program met their expectations—80 percent were satisfied with the dispatch service, and 60 percent thought the home care workers provided good service. Sixty percent would highly recommend the program to others.