Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative

Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative Logo (MN, ND, MT)

Why We Started the Collaborative

Eighty-seven percent of seniors want to stay in their own home and community as they age, AARP reports. Rural seniors are no exception, yet they face additional challenges while living in remote communities when it comes to important social determinants such as access to transportation and health care services, isolation and loneliness, and food security. In rural communities, some services for older adults exist, but they are limited, sometimes inadequate and usually focus on medical needs rather than an integration of medical, social and emotional needs.  Sparsely settled rural regions typically do not have the same infrastructure of services as urban and suburban areas, making it difficult for rural seniors to access needed services and for service organizations to provide them.   Yet, dependable access to quality services such as nutrition, companionship, transportation and home modifications have been proven to increase older adults' independence, encourage autonomy, reduce isolation, improve their quality of life and reduce caregiver burden.  Given how America’s older adult population is growing at record rates, innovative community-based approaches are needed to improve rural seniors’ quality of life. 

To support older adults living in Minnesota, Montana, and North Dakota, Lutheran Services in America created the Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative. In partnership with our member organizations, Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS MN), Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota (LSS ND), and St John’s United of Montana, three statewide, trusted and respected organizations in their respective states, the Collaborative builds on proven models of community-based support to coordinate services for rural seniors.  Our efforts are geared toward older adults living alone, who often are living with multiple comorbidities and/or have high levels of social isolation and depression. The collaborative learning model is committed to developing and implementing solutions that enable older rural adults to maintain their autonomy, improve their health and well-being, and achieve a higher quality of life. With the benefit of independent academic evaluation and validation of program results from our partners at North Dakota State University, the Collaborative continues to leverage the unique assets and resources of rural communities, and develop person-centered approaches to help seniors remain in their homes and communities, living with purpose and meaning. We are seeing great successes in Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, and expect this valuable collaborative to grow and become a national model for serving rural seniors across the country.

Our Partnership History

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Through two three-year grants totaling $5.9 million from a national foundation, we established the collaborative to expand community-based services and supports to improve the health and quality of life for low-income seniors in rural North Dakota,  Minnesota, and Montana.  Our first grant cycle was completed in December 2018 and successfully improved the health and quality of life of over 1,550 low-income vulnerable seniors in over 70 communities throughout rural Minnesota and North Dakota. We are currently in our second three-year grant focused on scaling these successful care coordination and social engagement programs in rural Minnesota and North Dakota and expanding services to seniors in rural Montana.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, we were awarded additional relief funding from this national foundation to help meet the increased need of rural communities during this unprecedented time.  These funds have been critical in helping our partners deliver their services virtually to more remote communities and provide technology devices to low-income rural seniors and their family caregivers for access to these programs.  One of these services, Remote Caregiver, was recently awarded a grant from the Consuemr Technology Association Foundation for additional devices and equipment.

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Resources

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Additional Resources

Extra Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative resources can be found here (access restricted to Collaborative members). Please contact Ashley Washington at awashington@lutheranservices.org for access.


For more information about the Great Plains Senior Services Collaborative, contact Ashley Washington at awashington@lutheranservices.org.