Community Partner Visit : OATS and Senior Planet San Antonio

Walter D. Woods, CEO of The Humana Foundation, is visiting each Strategic Community Investment Program (SCIP) partnering organization in 2020. Here are some of his thoughts about his recent visit to San Antonio and Older Adults Technology Services (OATS), an award-winning social impact organization that uses technology, training and partnerships to build sustainable new systems that change the way people age.

 

OATS and The Humana Foundation are working together to address social connectedness in San Antonio
Walter Woods, CEO of The Humana Foundation, met with Senior Planet San Antonio participants at the Wheatley Courts. They were learning how to use apps like Uber and Lyft to get around San Antonio.

As I mentioned when writing about the San Antonio Food Bank’s HOPE project , The Humana Foundation has two Strategic Community Investments in San Antonio, investing in and partnering with local organizations addressing social determinants of health. San Antonio is our oldest Bold Goal community, a place where Humana and The Humana Foundation are working to improve health 20 percent by 2020 and beyond.

In 2018, the first year of our SCIP, The Humana Foundation partnered with OATS to fund Senior Planet San Antonio, a program that focuses on positive aging outcomes by addressing social isolation, loneliness and social connections. Senior Planet San Antonio engages seniors with free access to internet-connected technology and holds intensive training courses specifically designed for older learners in numerous community centers around San Antonio. Our investment with OATS is testing the idea that free access to and training for digital technologies accelerates and empowers seniors to achieve social connections.

OATS recently received a continuing SCIP investment for Project San Antonio because of the specific and measurable change resulting from the program. OATS measures how many seniors report applying a skill acquired in a Project San Antonio course that is enhancing their social engagement.

In 2018, 461 San Antonio seniors achieved a greater sense of social connection thanks to Senior Planet San Antonio. These seniors acquired new technology skills that improved their ability to access online resources and connect to a larger community network. Through technology, these seniors are better able to communicate with their friends and family, as well as community resources and services. And, Senior Planet San Antonio participants have forged relationships with each other and their instructors.

We are learning that seniors feel more engaged and less like the world is passing them by when they engage with digital technologies. As the saying goes, don’t just take my word for it – hear it from Kathy, a Senior Planet San Antonio participant.

“I was given a wonderful opportunity to broaden my horizons through my connection with Senior Planet San Antonio. Enrolling in the class ‘Introduction to Digital Culture’ has sharpened my internet skills beyond my belief. Learning how to navigate the website ‘MeetUp’ introduced me to brand new ways of meeting and connecting with like-minded seniors in the area. I never knew that there were so many events, clubs and volunteer opportunities available for those over 60 years of age. Attending Senior Planet classes at Northeast Senior Center is the highlight of my day. I guess being older does have its advantages sometimes.” – Kathy H., Senior Planet San Antonio, Northeast Senior Center

Kathy’s Senior Planet journey started in May 2019, when she moved to San Antonio to benefit from a lower cost of living. She first enrolled in Senior Planet’s Introduction to Digital Culture course so she could meet new friends in her community. Since then, Kathy has successfully completed six additional technology courses, spanning 80 hours of training in areas such as social media, small business development and community advocacy. After gaining newfound confidence and ability, Kathy has made many new friends in her community and online through social media apps like MeetUp and Facebook. And, Kathy is contemplating restarting her small business, enrolling in the Startup! course that helps entrepreneurs with branding, social media marketing and fundraising through crowdsourcing and GoFundMe campaigns.

Creating results like that is not easy, and OATS has benefited from partnering with City of San Antonio, the Digital Inclusion Alliance of San Antonio, more than 30 community centers around the city, and numerous other community-based organizations that provide resources to seniors.

I look forward to our continued partnership with OATS and all of the positive results we’ll achieve in 2020.

 

We know health is local. Creating change and greater health equity takes time, a deep understanding of the community, and strong relationships between partnering organizations. That’s why The Humana Foundation’s Strategic Community Investment Program (SCIP) partners with local organizations for up to three years, depending on specific, measurable results, to address social determinants of health in eight of Humana’s Bold Goal communities, places where Humana and The Humana Foundation are working to improve health 20 percent by 2020 and beyond. Visit the SCIP page on HumanaFoundation.org for more information on our investments and partners.

CategoriesBold GoalSan AntonioStrategic Community Investment ProgramSocial Connectedness