Office for the Aging


Erie County NY Connects/Senior Services Teams with Mental Health Department

NY Connects - a statewide, locally based no wrong door/point of entry system that provides one stop access to free, objective and comprehensive Information and Assistance on long term services and supports - is working with the Erie County Department of Mental Health to improve care for older New Yorkers who may need treatment for mental illness. It's one of the first collaborations of its kind in New York State, said New York State Office for the Aging Acting Director Greg Olsen.

"Our staff and county offices are always looking for ways we can improve services," Olsen said. "Erie County NY Connects has become the SPOA (Single Point of Access) for the Older Adults program for the Mental Health Department in the county. As a result, callers and clients needing a connection to Mental Health services geared toward older adults now have a place to turn. It is important to have an organizational structure in place locally that can help to more easily provide service to the growing numbers of older adults with depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health needs."

The adult SPOA provides timely access to intensive community based Care Coordination, Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), and/or Housing services and supports for adults with severe mental illness. Care Coordination, ACT, and/or Housing services are intended for individuals who are at high risk of further system penetration, who are unable to maintain community based linkages and important supports, such as; Psychiatric treatment and medication management, Medical provider and treatment, Housing & housing crisis management, Substance Abuse treatment, Financial, Social Supports and Legal.

Through the SPOA partnership NY Connects has the ability to connect callers to three programs offering Care Coordination, Counseling and Peer support. These three programs along with NY Connects/Senior Services work together in a concerted effort to assist with the physical, mental, financial and social needs of older adults in Erie County.

The following case example supports the need for such collaboration between agencies: An Erie County Department of Senior Services client was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. In addition to the mental health concern, she also had some physical limitations that were not being addressed. The client was assessed for Home Delivered Meals and PCA services. She was also referred to the Geriatric Assessment Program for the Mental Health concerns. At this time, she still needs some home based service but her physical ailments are being addressed as she is now willing to accept PT services. Her social needs are being met as she has begun participation at a local senior center. The client continues to receive counseling and case management services.

For more information on this partnership, Erie County NY Connects at 716-858-8526 or 1-800-396-2705, or visit the Erie County Senior Services website.(External Link) The county has a video that helps explain how Erie County NY Connects can assist older New Yorkers and their caregivers.(External Link)

Did You Know?
Trained NY Connects Information and Assistance Specialists provide individualized information and assistance and links individuals of all ages needing long term services and supports, as well as their caregivers, to the services and supports they need to maintain independence to the extent possible, regardless of payment source.

NY Connects is an active partner in the State's efforts to rebalance long term services and support system so that people can live independently and remain at home and in their communities. It is a trusted community resource that links individuals to the most appropriate services of their choice.

The New York State Office for the Aging, in partnership with the New York State Department of Health, established NY Connects: Choices for Long Term Care in 2006. Visit the NY Connects website(External Link) to learn more.