In 2020, Humana and the Institute on Aging established a member-specific hotline as its first national loneliness-related resource. It allows Humana Medicare Advantage members to connect directly to a friendly voice and listening ear from the comfort of their own home.
“Humana is so ahead of the curve in that they care and are making it a priority to help people,” said Mia Grigg, Senior Director, Integrated Behavioral Health Services for The Friendship Line at the Institute on Aging. “They came to us and said let’s not just fund this, but let’s show that it works and that it matters.”
The Friendship Line is a live connection to provide emotional support, well-being checks, grief support through assistance and reassurance, information for isolated older adults and adults living with disabilities, and a way to report elder abuse confidentially.
Member-facing Humana associates on any team who encounter a member who is struggling emotionally, are able to directly transfer the call to trained staff at The Friendship Line who can listen and get to the heart of a member’s concern.
“The Friendship Line is a crisis hotline, an accredited suicide hotline and a warm line, but the majority of what we do is warm line contact,” Grigg said. “If someone is experiencing physical ailments or grieving, it’s somebody who just needs to be heard, to be listened to, to be seen.”
She explained the core of the Humana partnership is taking care of physical, social and mental health. If a person is not in the frame of mind to have a conversation about health, a bill or daily need with Humana, their immediate need for understanding can be met with a trained associate at The Friendship Line.
Grigg said as an example, maybe the member just got a bill in the mail and it’s for a spouse who recently died. That’s someone who is in a personal crisis at the moment, who might need to talk. Or, perhaps a person calls their physician several times a day with questions. They could end up in the emergency department with a panic attack.
“We’re going to de-escalate that situation. And we’re going to answer the phone every single time,” she said. “We hear a lot of people struggling with shelter in place – older folks who have a tremendous amount of loss in their life story, being able to have that outlet for them and then know that they can call us back any time and pick up where they left off, that’s peace of mind they don’t always have.”
“It’s a brief intervention that changes a person’s day.”
“It is a dream come true,” Grigg said of the partnership. “The conversation of partnering with a healthcare provider has been a constant conversation for us. Humana came to us and that is huge, to know we were doing something for 48 years, but having someone coming to you saying you’re doing a great thing is so fulfilling.”