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North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services

Options Counseling

    Promoting informed decisions about long-term services and supports is a major goal of Aging and Disability Resource Centers, known as Community Resource Connections for Aging and Disabilities (CRCs) in North Carolina. CRCs have a unique opportunity to meet people at times of critical decision-making and change in their lives and to provide decision-support through Options Counseling.

    Options Counseling is a person-centered, interactive and decision-support process. The main purpose is to help individuals identify and understand their needs. Options Counseling includes:

    • listening to the individual express his/her preferences, values, service needs, and circumstances
    • engaging in conversation for a joint exchange of information and possible options that are tailored around the stated needs and preferences
    • providing support that leads the individual to make informed choices about long-term services and supports
    • connecting the individual, when it is his/her choice, to public/private services and/or informal supports
    • following-up with the individual with the ultimate goal to support the individual to live in his/her community of choice

    Options Counseling involves building relationships with individuals and helping them to identify their goals and preferences and weigh the pros and cons of their options. This occurs through in-person meetings, possible conversations with family members, and follow-up. Options counselors help individuals consider a range of possibilities when making a decision about long-term services and supports and encourage planning for future needs. Options Counseling can also help younger individuals plan ahead for their future long-term service and support needs.

    Examples of situations when Options Counseling might be offered include when an individual:

    • has an unmet need for which there is more than one service alternative
    • has had recent change in his/her life situation
    • has long-term services and supports needs but is unsure about how to access them
    • requests transition assistance from one living setting to another
    • is admitted to the hospital
    • lacks awareness of existing community resources and supports
    • has multiple needs, behavioral health needs or an ongoing illness
    • or the person acting on his or her behalf, requests or indicates an interest in receiving information or advice concerning long-term services and supports options
    • is referred to the CRC by a hospital, nursing home, assisted living home, community-based service provider, or other agency,

    Desired outcomes of Options Counseling include:

    • individuals and families make service and support choices that fit well with their needs, goals and preferences even as these change over time
    • individuals achieve or maintain a high degree of independence and control in their daily lives
    • individuals and families are able to get the services and supports they need and are better able to make good use of their own resources over time.

    North Carolina Options Counseling Project

    In 2010, North Carolina was one of 20 states awarded a two-year demonstration grant funded by the Administration on Aging (AoA). Purposes of the grant are:

    • to work with AoA to define Options Counseling and develop national minimum standards that will guide how options counseling is delivered, who delivers it, under what circumstances, and how outcomes are tracked across the CRC network
    • for funded states to design, implement and test state standards for Options Counseling, that includes developing/implementing training and a certification process for Options Counselors

    Project Goals:

    • Ensure Options Counseling is delivered in line with the national standards
    • Refine North Carolinas definition of Options Counseling so that it is consistent with the CRC model
    • Include person-centered thinking practices and the needs of both aging and disabilities populations
    • Ensure that local CRC partners are well trained and certified to provide this service.

    Project Objectives:

    • Develop operating procedures and standards including training requirements that are specific to North Carolina
    • Develop a comprehensive training curriculum
    • Implement standards and training for partners in two CRCs within the first grant year and for all CRCs by month eighteen
    • Implement an evaluation plan that measures training effectiveness & consumer satisfaction with Options Counseling
    • Collaborate to develop national standards

    Anticipated Project Outcomes:

    • A certification process for individuals providing Options Counseling through the CRCs
    • Individuals trained with the new Options Counseling curriculum demonstrate increased knowledge and skills
    • Individuals receiving Options Counseling from certified counselors are satisfied that the service met their needs

Last updated February 25, 2013



Options Counseling Standard

Options Counseling Form
(For AAA use only)