It all started in Buncombe County, North Carolina – the county with the largest Veteran population in the state’s 26 western counties. Now, the NCServes Western network is working hard every day to connect Veterans to critical resources and creatively address the unique barriers posed by their community.
After partnering with Unite Us and the Institute for Veteran and Military Families in August 2017, the network of health and community-based providers immediately began to grow. They developed strategic partnerships with 211, their local VA Medical Center, and the Pack Library, expanded to the Mountain Region, and have been seeing a steady increase in provider engagement ever since. Their number of registered providers has already expanded by 25%. The network now serves 16 entire counties and has processed over 700 referrals to date.
In addition to quantity, these referrals have increased in quality. Unite Us’ data revealed that in the region currently covered, the demand for housing persists as the number one most requested need above benefits, employment, legal, transportation, or several other support categories. This knowledge has already helped inform crucial training methods and hiring decisions. Since they can now identify the co-occurence of housing needs and other needs, service organizations across the network have been able to train their staff on screening and assessments to be more aware of these related needs and better help clients navigate the appropriate resources.
As stated by Managing Director Brandon Wilson, "We’re very rural in nature, so with that, it becomes a demographic challenge.” In our interview with him, Brandon talks about one particular nonprofit organization that assists Veterans with housing, utility, and other basic needs. He mentions that their income is primarily generated through donation jars which means funds are quite hard to come by. With Unite Us’ help, however, he says the Veterans can tap into and receive federal funds for pressing needs like eviction notices and look to the nonprofit organization for secondary funds like food or transportation. This, Brandon says, allows their network to “stretch a dollar in an area where the dollar is very short.”
We also talked to Brandon about how the network has leveraged Unite Us’ reporting capabilities. “What Unite Us is able to do in that arena is give coordinated care to these Veterans to link them quicker and more efficiently, but we’re also able to really fiscally and economically make a difference because we’re able to track provider, service, and outcome data,” he says. “We’re able to track who gets that money, how it’s being spent, who gets those services, and therefore it stretches that dollar and we’re able to provide more.” He also touches on the value of being able to directly target social determinants based on the reported data. He says that the ability to see community statistics in a timely manner “equip our providers to be able to ask the right questions, dig a little more in their assessments, and better address the social determinants that we are now able to identify.”
"We're also able to really fiscally and economically make a difference because we're able to track provider, service, and outcome data." - Brandon Wilson, Managing Director of NCServes Western
Ultimately, NCServes Western’s goals are to reduce the duration of each service episode even more, reduce the time to match referrals, and increase the percentage of favorable outcomes in all service categories. Unite Us has been working alongside the Coordination Center to make sure these goals are met and have been finding overwhelmingly positive results. The network recently expanded into four new counties.
We are incredibly proud of our partners at NCServes Western and can't wait to watch the network continue to grow and thrive.