Our Approach to Social Care in Virginia

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Overview

  • In 2020, food and housing searches accounted for more than 50% of the 326,000+ searches in Virginia.
  • In 2020 we had more than 70,000 Virginia users on our program search and referral platform including individuals, workers at nonprofits and government agencies, and employees of customers serving Virginians (like the YMCA of Greater Richmond, Anthem HealthKeepers Plus, Central Virginia Health Services, and Virginia Premier Health Plan).
  • Over 27 local customers across Virginia, DC, and Maryland are advancing a shared regional social care model: tools to facilitate easy coordinated social care, a program network with breadth, depth, accuracy, and efficiency to meet Seeker needs, strong partnerships with community organizations, and a data-driven and targeted approach to identify and meet key regional needs. A number of these organizations recently came together for the region’s first User’s Group Meeting on January 14 to affirm this approach.
  • Since March 2020, Aunt Bertha’s Community Engagement Team has hosted 11 events for more than 200 Virginia CBOs.

Our Footprint in Virginia

Now more than ever, Virginians are in need of Aunt Bertha to connect to nearby social services, with dignity and ease. We believe that everyone will need a helping hand at some point in their lives, and for many Virginians the pandemic has been that point. Since mid-March 2020, our platform handled an average of 6,153 searches per week from Virginia users — a 110% increase over the 2019 pre-COVID weekly average. 

Food and housing account for more than 50% of all Virginia searches on the platform. Thousands of nonprofits, charities, and other social care providers are turning to Aunt Bertha’s established network and free tools to help nearly 70,000 Virginians.

To support these individuals and community organizations, our team has added more than 2,268 new programs serving Virginia since March 2020. During this time, we launched findhelp.org, a free, publicly available online resource where people impacted by the pandemic can search for help in their communities. Our Data Operations Team is the largest in the company and undergoes a manual, four-step process to keep program information up-to-date during this incredibly challenging time.

Supporting Community Organizations in Virginia

Over the years, we’ve worked hard to grow our social care network in Virginia, supporting everyone involved – Helpers, Seekers, and Community-Based Organizations (CBOs). That work continues today, as nonprofits in the state are adapting how they operate to continue serving the communities that depend on them more and more. 

Since March 2020, Aunt Bertha’s Community Engagement Team has hosted 11 events for more than 200 Virginia CBOs, learning about their challenges and sharing free tools to support their work. In 2020, almost 300 programs serving Virginians claimed their listings on findhelp.org, providing the program staff with tools like eligibility screeners and reporting, and ensuring that when people reach out to these programs for help, they will be met by an engaged, responsive Helper.

There is a strong interest for services like Aunt Bertha among social care providers in Virginia, and we’re excited and motivated to keep building our network throughout the state. 

Teresa Radford hands out masks, hand sanitizer, and copies of a local resource guide to people waiting in their cars during a food pantry distribution event in Dillwyn, VA. The resource guide was created by Radford and other volunteers with the Health Equity and Access in Rural Regions initiative. [Photo by Kelly West/Resolve Magazine]
Building that network means supporting partners like the Health Equity and Access in Rural Regions (HEARR) initiative. HEARR is bringing together nonprofits, small businesses, government entities, and community stakeholders to improve the health of those living in rural areas of Central Virginia. The initiative is entirely volunteer led, and one focus is on building a printed resource guide for community members with limited internet access. Teresa Radford, a registered nurse and a board member of HEARR who has been working on the resource guide, said she was so excited when she learned about Aunt Bertha. “People don’t know what their neighbors are doing,” she says, “They don’t know what’s down the street. [Aunt Bertha] has all of this wonderful information.” You can learn more about the work of community volunteers and organizations like HEARR from our storytelling team at Resolve Magazine.

Our Network in Virginia

Addressing the challenges of food, housing, and other social determinants of health requires a strong and open social care  network. Time and time again, we hear that customers choose Aunt Bertha because they know they’ll start with an engaged network that’s already in place from day one.

As part of our commitment to openness, we publish our network statistics every month. In this interactive map, you can learn more about the types of programs available on a county-by-county basis. You’ll see that there are 3,449 claimed program locations in our network in Virginia — a number that grows each month.

Needs don’t end at regional borders — and neither do we! Our nationwide network provides continuity across metros, parishes, counties, and states; a critical feature if the population you serve is mobile. 

We’re dedicated to growing our network across the country. Our Data Operations team of 60 full-time employees based in Austin, Texas is dedicated to researching information, entering new programs, and responding to changes as quickly as possible. This team shapes the user experience through the programs they vet, the information they distill, and the logical organization of services they tag (or categorize). It would be far easier and cheaper for us to only rely on technology like many of our counterparts are doing. But we’ve taken the harder path to build a team made up of humans — not robots — because this is the only way to ensure that people get the help they need, quickly and easily.

Who is Searching for Help in Virginia?

We regularly analyze activity across our network to get a sense for a community’s most critical needs and where those needs are underserved. In 2020, we supported almost 70,000 Virginia users — almost double the number of users in 2019 — which underscores the high levels of need during the pandemic.

Our users are everyday people, workers at nonprofits and government agencies, and employees of our paying customers who serve Virginians, including the YMCA of Greater Richmond, Anthem HealthKeepers Plus, Central Virginia Health Services, Virginia Premier Health Plan, Nova ScriptsCentral, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), AARP Foundation, and the Red Cross

Thousands of our users come from networks owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia (state employees), all major universities, and most major healthcare institutions in the state. While these organizations are not yet customers, they’re already using our public platform to find and connect to social care resources across Virginia. It’s amazing to see the breadth of users finding help through our platform.

Where are Virginians Searching for Help?

We see folks searching across all 95 counties in the Commonwealth of Virginia — in big cities and small towns alike. While high search density can be seen in metro areas such as Norfolk and Richmond, there is consistent searching across the entire state, including rural areas.

Search density in Virginia from Jan 2018 though Jan 2021.

What Are Virginians Searching for? 

Housing and food are the most sought-after services by our users in Virginia,  followed closely by health services. The chart below breaks down searches by more than 67,110 users across the state over the past year. You can learn more about the most-searched resources in this interactive report.

Beyond Search: Connections & Closed Loops

In the past year, more than 27,180 connections were made in Virginia on Aunt Bertha platforms. A connection goes beyond a search — it’s when someone in need and a program that can serve that person come together, because of our platform. Examples include referrals, applications, and phone calls. As you can see from the chart below, there has been a tremendous growth in connections in Virginia.

We expect connections to continue growing as our network continues expanding in Virginia. On our platform, everyone involved in the referral process has visibility into the referral’s status and is empowered to update it and  “close the loop” — an employee of the organization that made the outbound referral, an employee of the organization that received the referral, or the person being referred. We’ve seen significant growth in the number of “closed-loop” referrals as more and more of our users update their referrals on our platform.

Stories from Virginia

Through our mission-driven partnerships, our customers are making a difference across the Commonwealth of Virginia. Customers and social service providers rely on our tools, analytics, and network strength so their patients, members, clients, and community members find help with dignity and ease.

The YMCA of Greater Richmond is using their Help1RVA platform (powered by Aunt Bertha) to empower underserved communities in the Richmond area. Since launching the Help1RVA platform in 2018, the Y has trained a team of over 35 navigators — YMCA staff, community champions, and CBO stakeholders. These navigators have made over 2,050 connections between people and the programs that serve them, including over 752 referrals to CBOs in their area.

‘Kristi’, an Anthem HealthKeepers Plus care coordinator was navigating on behalf of ‘Matthew’,  a member who had been missing for a couple of months. Kristi was finally able to locate Matthew, now confined to a wheelchair and experiencing homelessness. Kristi used Anthem’s version of the Aunt Bertha platform to find a local housing authority that could provide Matthew with temporary housing. A few months later, after receiving support from the housing authority and replacing his stolen identification, Matthew secured stable housing of his own and is currently working to establish a lasting relationship with his primary care provider. As a result of Kristi’s help, Matthew is now stable, safe, and able to visit with his godson again.

Continuing the Mission in Virginia

Anthem HealthKeepers Plus and YMCA of Greater Richmond are just 2 of the over 27 local customers and 36 national customers serving people in Virginia, DC, and Maryland with a shared approach to social care. This approach, affirmed during a regional User Group Meeting on January 14, includes:

  • Tools to facilitate easy coordinated social care;
  • A program network with breadth, depth, accuracy, and efficiency to meet Seeker needs;
  • Strong partnerships with community organizations; and
  • A data-driven and targeted approach to identify and meet key regional needs.

Our Customer Success team is always here to help and guide customers on new initiatives with our knowledge of the social care space. We’re uniquely positioned to share an informed point of view, based on the successes and outcomes that we help drive for our partners in Virginia and beyond.

We’re invested in Virginia for the long haul as part of our mission to connect people and the programs that serve them with dignity and ease. During unprecedented times like we’re experiencing today, there are no easy answers and we are hesitant to make a claim that software is a quick fix to drive down the cost of care. Software in and of itself does not drive down the cost of care. People building relationships with our communities — by being thoughtful, attentive, and making referrals — is what drives down the cost of care. With the continued support of both our current and future partners, we look forward to working together to improve even more lives in the years ahead. 

 

Want to learn more? 

Let us know and we’ll get you in touch with someone from our team. 


By the way, who’s Aunt Bertha?

Aunt Bertha is the leading referral platform for social services in America, serving the biggest cities and smallest towns. We connect people seeking help and the verified social care providers that serve them, with dignity and ease. We make it easy for people to find social services in their communities, for nonprofits to coordinate their efforts, and for organizations to integrate social care into the work they already do. We serve millions of users and our platform is used in a wide range of industries including education, government, housing, and healthcare.

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