Front Porch Receives 2013 LeadingAge Innovation Fund Grant to Implement MeHCA Telemental Health

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Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing Will Address Mental Health Needs of Underserved Seniors

Living in Affordable Housing in Greater Los Angeles Area

Burbank, Calif. November 6, 2013Front Porch, a not-for-profit human serving organization featuring innovative communities and programs that meet the changing needs of individuals as they age, was awarded a $25,000 grant by the LeadingAge Innovation Fund to support a new telemental health initiative that will be implemented through the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (Front Porch Center) and its Model eHealth Community for Aging (MeHCA) project. This initiative will serve the mental health needs of underserved seniors in affordable housing and community centers in the Greater Los Angeles Area through a pilot using video conferencing and tablet computers. Through the generosity of LeadingAge members and a matching grant from the NewCourtland Foundation, seven grants of up to $25,000 each have been awarded.

Front Porch was one of seven organizations across the country awarded for their innovative thinking and the project’s potential for demonstrable impact and replication. The project will set out to explore new reimbursement models for service providers that use telehealth and apply broadband technologies to deliver services to non-traditional care settings. Front Porch was recognized for the grant at the recent LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Dallas.

The MeHCA project, a unique partnership of over 20 companies to address the barriers to care, health and wellbeing for aging communities, uses broadband-enabled technology to proactively support health and wellness needs and improve access to care for underserved and low-income older adults at affordable housing communities, community health clinics, senior centers and other anchor institutions. With this new telemental health initiative, the Front Porch Center will leverage the MeHCA infrastructure and capacity to develop a new model for mental health care targeting seniors in community-based, non-clinical settings.

The new initiative will focus on the need for access to mental health services through technology, targeting independent living residents at two HUD Section 236 apartments (270 residents at Vista Towers, 146 at Good Shepherd) in Los Angeles. The project will also target participants at the ERB Foundation, a community-based center in Carson, CA that serves Filipino veterans and other vulnerable seniors affected by war.

“The MeHCA project has been working to close the gap by bringing innovative technology solutions to underserved seniors to enhance digital literacy, increase access to resources and help them proactively manage their own health and wellbeing,” said Kari Olson, chief innovation and technology officer for Front Porch and president of the Front Porch Center. “This new funding provided by LeadingAge, along with the support of our partners, is vital to providing access to mental health services in homes and community centers, with a culturally and linguistically sensitive approach. We envision this new MeHCA telemental health initiative will set the standard in meeting the needs of this underserved population.”

“This year’s grantees are addressing crucial issues like mental health and chronic disease management,” said Larry Minnix, LeadingAge’s president and CEO. “Other grantees are helping residents to better manage their health and chronic conditions. We are happy to support projects like MeHCA that allow seniors to age safely and affordably, with dignity and respect in the place that they call home.”

The Front Porch Center is a 501(C)(3) founded on the belief that technology innovation plays a vital role in enhancing wellbeing and is part of the Front Porch family of companies, one of Southern California’s largest not-for-profit providers of retirement living communities and affordable housing, and strives to harness technology solutions that support and enhance wellbeing in older adults.

For this initiative, the Front Porch Center will partner with USC Telehealth and Special Service for Groups Older Adults Division (SSG-OAD). USC Telehealth is a professional telemental health clinic through the University of Southern California School of Social Work that delivers virtual world-class psychotherapy using leading evidence-based practices, including Problem Solving Therapy (PST), among others. Through this initiative, USC Telehealth will provide virtual telemental health services to English- and Spanish-speaking Front Porch clients.  SSG is a non-profit health and human service organization dedicated to building and sustaining community-based programs that address the needs of vulnerable communities. The Older Adults Division currently manages a number of community based mental health programs funded by the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health focused on meeting the mental health needs of older adults with limited access to traditional outpatient mental health services.

The objectives of the new initiative are:

  • To demonstrate the effectiveness of video conferencing and telemental health as a strategy for addressing the mental health needs of underserved seniors.
  • To establish a replicable, sustainable model in an affordable housing setting that involves the coordination of mental health services, residents, management and resident service coordinators.

The Front Porch Center anticipates: delivering 300 hours of mental health services in English, Spanish and Korean to 30 adult clients; broadcasting four community workshops on behavioral health over video conference reaching 125 community members, developing the program capacity and infrastructure to receive telemental health services at three communities, including two affordable housing communities and one senior service center; and the initiative will produce a toolkit that will be shared and distributed to other senior living providers.

Finally, the project will produce an evaluative study of the telemental health initiative. The Front Porch Center will collaborate with the USC Davis School of Gerontology (a current MeHCA partner) to assemble a team of students to conduct literature reviews and develop evaluation tools. The findings from this study will be shared at aging conferences and panel discussions to support the dissemination and replication of this model.

About Front Porch

Front Porch is a not-for-profit support system for a family of companies that serve individuals and families through full-service retirement, active adult communities, affordable housing communities through CARING Housing Ministries and related management and development services. Front Porch active adult and full-service retirement communities offer a full range of options from independent living to continuing care, including memory support. Specialized programs like the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, Front Porch Gallery and affiliated Centers for Spirituality and Aging support the Front Porch belief in understanding and meeting needs so that residents can live life their way. With innovative communities and programs that meet the changing needs of people as they age, Front Porch represents a leading-edge approach to wellness in aging. Front Porch is comprised of 10 full-service retirement communities in California and three adult living communities: one in Louisiana, one in Florida and one in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. Front Porch also serves individuals and families through more than 20 affordable housing communities managed by Front Porch’s affiliate, CARING Housing Ministries. Front Porch, based in Burbank, Calif. and founded in 1999, is a not-for-profit organization that gives back to its residents and the communities it serves. More information is available at

About the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing

The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing is part of Front Porch, one of Southern California’s largest not-for-profit providers of retirement living communities and affordable housing. The Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing strives to harness technology solutions that support and enhance wellbeing in older adults. The Front Porch Center’s core initiatives focus on how technology can: assist in maintaining brain health; enhance social connectedness; promote engagement and growth; empower control over health and wellness; prevent emergencies or serious events; and increase resources and support for formal and informal caregivers. More information is available at

For Immediate Release
For more information contact: Mike Martinez, Senior Communications Director, (818) 254-4248