"Hub" Model Will Increase Equity and Access

Communities have long considered how to distribute services in a way that is accessible, equitable, and coordinated. We know that individuals frequently rely on a network of services and that geographic location is closely tied to access and wellbeing. Without attention to the important issue of geographic equity, supports can become highly concentrated in some areas and not others, leading to "service rich" and "service poor" communities.

Individuals residing in service poor areas often have to travel long distances or go without services. In a large and diverse region like King County, we are prompted to turn our attention to this issue and examine strategies to increase equity and access.

The "hub" model is a place-based service delivery strategy that has been adapted to meet the needs of populations in the communities where they reside. While this model may be known by different names or implemented differently across localities, the underlying philosophy is that services should be accessible, coordinated across a network, and located both where there is need and where people are residing. Typically, this model includes a hub organization in a geographic region that forms partnerships with other organizations within that same region in order to facilitate a coordinated network of services.

The intention is for individuals to be able to enter the network at any one of these organizations and receive the support that they need. If specialized services are offered by a particular organization within the hub network, there is a warm and coordinated transition. The hubs may also be connected to form a larger network under an organization that offers technical and administrative assistance. Within these networks, each organization brings its unique approach and capacity to serve community members. As a whole, partnerships strengthen the fabric of supportive services for individuals residing in those regions.

As our own aging and disability services network continues to respond to the need for community-based strategies, it will be exciting to see how existing partnerships can be strengthened and new partnerships that may form. The ultimate goal is the creation of an accessible, coordinated, and equitable service delivery system that is responsive to needs of individuals in the communities that they reside.

Contributor Allison Boll is a University of Washington Master of Social Work candidate currently interning with Aging and Disability Services. She previously held an internship with Senior Services and has well-rounded experience working in a nursing home, rehab and assisted living facility. Also see her article, Frequently Asked Questions about Community Living Connections, next in this issue.