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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.

    Development of Options Counseling in North Carolina

    Formal development of Options Counseling began in 2010. North Carolina was one of 20 states awarded a two-year demonstration grant funded by the Administration on Aging, currently known as Administration for Community Living (ACL). The purpose of the grant was:

    • to work with ACL to define Options Counseling and develop national minimum standards to guide how options counseling is delivered, who delivers it, under what circumstances, and how outcomes are tracked
    • for funded states to design, implement and test state standards for Options Counseling, including development and implementation of training and a certification process for Options Counselors

    By the end of the grant:

    • National standards were established
    • North Carolina Options Counseling Standards were developed and implemented, and
    • A comprehensive training curriculum and certification process for North Carolina Options Counseling were established

    Options Counseling continues to grow. There are over 150 individuals who have been certified in Options Counseling. The Options Counseling service has expanded beyond CRCs to include:

    • Local Contact Agencies (LCAs), local, community organizations responsible for providing options counseling to nursing home residents who express an interest in learning about community support options, and
    • Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) providers. The Information and Assistance service offered through HCCBG has been expanded to include Options Counseling. Effective July 1, 2014 the service became Information and Options Counseling

    Options Counseling will continue to be integrated into other initiatives as appropriate opportunities become available.

    Information and Options Counseling

    • Home and Community Care Block Grant (HCCBG) providers. The Information and Assistance service offered through HCCBG has been expanded to include Options Counseling. Effective July 1, 2014 the service became Information and Options Counseling




Last updated April 16, 2015



Options Counseling Standard

Options Counseling Form
(For AAA use only)