SCAN Behavioral Health Pilot Program for Seniors and Caregivers Shows Promising Results

Date Posted: 05/11/2017

Insights Program Uses Evidence-Based Models to Treat Depression and Anxiety in Home and in Patients’ Primary Language

LONG BEACH, Calif.—May 11, 2017—SCAN, a leading senior-focused organization with the mission of keeping seniors healthy and independent, today announced preliminary results of its Insights program—an innovative approach to delivering behavioral health services to seniors and their caregivers. By providing treatment services for certain conditions in home, at no cost, and in the patient’s primary language, the pilot program has shown promise in the use of evidence-based practices to treat depression, anxiety, distress, grief, loneliness and other symptoms in this population.

According to research from the American Association of Geriatric Psychiatry, some 20 percent of adults aged 55+ experiences a mental health condition, such as depression, anxiety, other mood disorders or cognitive impairment. A report from the Family Caregiver Alliance indicates that 40-70 percent of caregivers face depression, anxiety or both. These conditions can impair an older adult’s ability to function independently, contribute to poor health status and increase healthcare costs. However, lack of access to care or prompt help with depressive symptoms, the stigma associated with seeking treatment and linguistic challenges present barriers for many who would benefit from therapy. With those 65 and older expected to comprise 22 percent of the U.S. population by 2040, the need for mental health services will only increase.

“As an organization resolutely committed to serving seniors, we recognize the need to seek new and creative solutions to address the needs of aging adults as well as those who care for them,” stated Romilla Batra, chief medical officer at SCAN. “By taking services directly to seniors in their homes, and offering counseling that is culturally and linguistically sensitive to their needs, we have seen improvements in depression, anxiety and quality of life.”

Insights is an innovative approach to delivering behavioral health care to seniors and their caregivers in their homes or other locations of their choice and in their primary language. The Insights team of therapists can deliver services in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Korean. Program services are grounded in scientifically-tested, evidence-based practices and provided by licensed therapists at no cost to residents of Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Launched as a pilot project in early 2016 by Independence at Home, a SCAN Community Service, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Washington, early results of the program have been promising in terms of clinical outcomes.

“Having a mental health professional providing services in the comfort of a seniors’ home, who speaks their language and at times shares the same culture, allows the client to feel more at ease, supported and secure, making them more likely to accept these services,” said Alejandro Bulnes, mental health specialist and licensed therapist for Insights. “This approach provides the therapist a window into the reality of that client’s life, which helps in establishing a strong therapeutic relationship, and also helps significantly in designing better treatment goals and interventions that make sense to the older person.“

During the program implementation phase, rates and severity of depression and anxiety were reduced among program participants and quality of life scores improved. Scientifically validated tools are used to measure participants’ progress from beginning to end of the program. Early outcomes indicate that participants’ level of depression fell from a moderate level at the start of the program to a mild level by the time they exited the program as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) tool.  Similarly, the participants’ levels of anxiety fell from severe to mild as measured by the Geriatric Anxiety Scale (GAS-10). Participants’ scores on the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (Q-LES-Q) also improved from start to end of treatment. This measure assesses quality of life or the degree of enjoyment and satisfaction experienced on a daily basis.   

“To date, more than 100 Southern California seniors and caregivers have completed the 8-12 month program of therapy. Results so far indicate that Insights has real potential to fill an important gap in providing behavioral health services to seniors and caregivers in their homes and communities and language of their choice. It also indicates that these evidence-based models can be implemented in home or community settings, bringing needed mental health treatment services closer to seniors residing at home,” added Batra. “We expect to reach more than 200 patients in 2017, and our goals are to further improve patient outcomes, while also ensuring other senior-serving organizations may access and benefit from what we have learned.”  

Dr. Batra will present initial findings from the Insights program during the Presidential Poster Session at the 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Geriatrics Society on May 18 in San Antonio, Texas.

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About SCAN

SCAN is a not-for-profit organization committed to keeping seniors healthy and independent. That’s been our mission since our founding in 1977. Today we deliver on that mission through SCAN Health Plan, one of the largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans in the nation. Independence at Home, a SCAN community service, provides vitally needed services and support to seniors, disabled adults and their caregivers. SCAN also offers education programs, community funding, volunteer opportunities and other community services throughout our California service area. To learn more, visit or or follow us on twitter @scanhealthplan.



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