Humana Foundation: Moving the Needle on Social Determinants of Health

The challenge

Social isolation affects at least one in five older Americans, increasing health risks and driving up healthcare costs.  Seeking “upstream” program interventions that could increase social connection and improve other social determinants of health, the Humana Foundation issued a nationwide call for innovative solutions that would target residents in one or more of the seventeen cities of interest to the foundation.

The strategy

The social isolation of older adults is a complex problem, but has a simple solution: bring people together in purposeful ways that create opportunities for connectedness. OATS would bring its Senior Planet social impact programs and membership network to San Antonio, Texas to help older adults build new networks of social support in-person and online.

The solution

OATS brought technology-based programs that focused on social connectedness to San Antonio at a scale that within a year rivaled the volume of training in New York City. The programs were designed in line with the best practices of person-centered and trauma-informed care, so that they were appropriate even for the most isolated seniors. The goal was to help older adults connect in the digital age and participate in meaningful activities that could lead to sustained changes in the way they communicated with friends and family, participate in social and civic activities, and assert their value and presence in the world, both on and offline. OATS refined a validated assessment tool (used pre- and post-course) in order to measure a range of health outcomes, and immediately started to see changes in the participants’ physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. In the first year, according to a CDC scale used to measure self-reported changes in mental and physical health, the OATS program has resulted in an additional 1,869 healthy days for isolated older adults in San Antonio.