Consumer Eligibility & Prioritization

Consumer Eligibility & Prioritization

Prioritizing Consumers

When new consumers present with complex needs and safety concerns, “First come, first serve” as a policy may not be best practice.  It is important for administrative policies to be flexible, so that when safety concerns are identified, that staff can prioritize services to those individuals. See our example safety assessment to see how to identify potential safety concerns. 

Best Practices  

The program specifies an appropriate window for initial contact with consumers, and contacts are made within that timeframe. There is no waiting list for first contact. Information and referral services and collection of intake information may be completed by telephone. The program manager will ensure that the OIB program provides services in a timely way. 

When scheduling visits, agencies will have a written policy to prioritize services to consumers based upon one or a combination of factors, including but not limited to:  

  • Safety concerns 
  • Potential imminent institutionalization 
  • Severity of visual impairment 
  • Availability of personal support 
  • Transition in living conditions (nursing home/personal care, adult children)  
  • Time waiting for services 

Consumers with vision loss who are older may learn better when instruction is provided in short, frequent lessons. Consequently, multiple instructional sessions will be scheduled in a short time span. While consumers wait for their instructional services to begin, they will receive information and referral services that include periodic contact to address emerging concerns. 

Acceptable Practices

Any agency that does not implement best practices will have a plan in place to move toward best practices that includes an expeditious timetable and benchmarks. 

Unacceptable Practices

It is unacceptable to have a waiting list for first contact. It is unacceptable to have long waiting times for services. It is unacceptable to have no policy for prioritizing referrals. It is unacceptable to prioritize referrals or to discriminate based upon location (far rural areas seen last), socio-economic status, complexity of case, or cultural barriers. 

Clarifying Comments

Although there may not be an official waiting list, consumers sometimes wait long periods for all or some services, such as O&M, or they wait long periods between instructional visits. This is contrary to how services should be provided to older adults. Programs balance quality and quantity of instructional time and services. Prioritizing consumers over prioritizing services is preferred. Have policies/procedures in place to guide professionals in prioritizing their caseloads. Professionals should participate in developing the prioritization protocol.  

To serve new consumers in a timely way, older cases must be closed. Cases should not remain open for extended periods unless that time is instructionally necessary. An estimate for case closure should be made at assessment and revised as needed.