An iHealthHome device is a key part of the NC Club pilot program. • Photo by Mari Okamoto
An iHealthHome device is a key part of the NC Club pilot program. • Photo by Mari Okamoto

On January 14, the AARP Foundation presented a check for $150,000 to Nikkei Concerns to support a pilot program designed to reduce social isolation in Asian seniors.

The program, called “NC Club: Aging in Community,” uses a combination of technology, monitoring, and support from a registered nurse and personal concierge as part of an effort to revamp home- and community-based services.

The strategy is to maintain consistent contact with a program participant on both the clinical and social side. The nurse supports clinical needs while the concierge can work with the participant in brokering services such as scheduling activities and transportation.

These services are made easier through technology. A device outfitted with a camera, touch screen, and other technology will be placed at the participants’ homes. They can use the technology to Skype with their nurse or concierge, take health readings, and more.

“Rather than having to send somebody over to have communication interactions, we can Skype,” said Nikkei Concerns CEO Jeffrey Hattori. “Through this technology, we can check blood pressure, blood sugar, weight. We’ll have motion sensors and all this information is being communicated in real time to the nurse navigator, to the [personal concierge], and to the family members.”

In addition to the technology, the program offers homecare services, delivered meals, and transportation services.

Asian seniors are more likely to be isolated due to language and cultural barriers. Hattori said that NC Club can be a model for helping seniors stay in their homes while improving their mental and physical well-being.

“It’s not just about supporting an individual at home, it’s about engaging in life,” Hattori said. “And we feel we have a model and template here that can definitely support and address social isolation, improve health outcomes. And on a broader level, [it] aligns with healthcare reform, the needs and wants of our community, and supports the strategic plan of Nikkei Concerns. And it’s a wonderful partnership and alliance with AARP’s social isolation initiative.”

AARP Foundation’s Doris Koo (left) delivers a check for $150,000 to Nikkei Concerns staff on January 14, 2014. • Photo by Mari Okamoto
AARP Foundation’s Doris Koo (left) delivers a check for $150,000 to Nikkei Concerns staff on January 14, 2014. • Photo by Mari Okamoto

AARP Foundation estimates that approximately 17 percent of adults over 50 suffer from social isolation.

“For the Asian Pacific Islander community, the asset is family and community,” said AARP board member Doris Koo. “But the challenge is also that we have been so strong as a community that we sometimes isolate ourselves socially and linguistically.”

Nikkei Concerns is currently seeking 25 people to participate in NC Club’s six-month pilot program. Participants are required to be over 50, live in Seattle or Bellevue, speak English or Japanese, have at least one chronic health condition, feel socially isolated, and be committed to full participation in the six-month program.

“What if we maximized the ability of support in communities and at home until such time [seniors] need to go and have a 24/7 facility care for the final two or three years of their lives,” Koo said. “NC Club is an innovative effort to say let’s utilize what we have as strength and assets. Let’s collaborate with other organizations in the community because NC Club would not be exclusively just serving people in the International District, it will be serving Asian Pacific Islanders and elders throughout this region.”

AARP Foundation hopes to learn from the NC Club pilot program and adapt the program at a national level.

For more information or to apply to be a participant in the NC club pilot program, contact Kara Mayeda, director of Nikkei Concerns’ Home- and Community-Based Services, at [email protected] or (206) 348-0417. Applications are being accepted through January 31, 2015.

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