LTSS Newsletter—January 2021

Funding opportunities, news, events, and resources for tribal and urban Indian LTSS programs
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Stay tuned for the February 2021 LTSS webinar

American Indian/Alaska Native Long-Term Services and Supports

Technical assistance for culturally competent care
January 2021
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Visit the online LTSS TA Center for videos, best practices, toolkits, a resource library, and a step-by-step planning roadmap.
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Starting the year in a good way: Benefits of traditional foods

Providing traditional foods, like squash, berries, and salmon, to those receiving LTSS can boost their physical and spiritual health.

Benefits of incorporating first foods into care include:

  • Helping to lower blood sugar
  • Supporting a healthy weight
  • Increasing social engagement during meals
  • Reducing food waste
  • Promoting connection to culture and a sense of feeling “at home” for those living at long-term care facilities

Read Tribal Nursing Home Best Practices: Traditional Foods (PDF, 1.64 MB, 12 pp) to learn more about how tribal long-term care facilities have added traditional options to their menus by:

  • Involving elders and the community in developing menus and sourcing food
  • Coordinating with federal, state, and local agencies to overcome policy challenges to serving traditional foods

Get recipes and insights

The Annual Conference on Native American Nutrition is presenting a webinar series featuring Indigenous women chefs. The webinars will include recipes with live cooking demonstrations. The next webinar is February 9, with five subsequent webinars extending through July.

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    More traditional foods resources
    The CMS LTSS Technical Assistance Center offers case studies and guidance on incorporating traditional foods into long-term care:
A graphic showing three Native elders eating at a table

Protecting against pandemic-related fraud

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt communities, fraud related to health coverage and the COVID-19 vaccine have increased. Share the infographic below to inform your community about how to protect against these scams.

Avoid Fraud Surrounding COVID-19:
No one from Medicare or the Health Department will contact you about the vaccine. Contact your doctor for questions.
No one will call you and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or credit card or banking information. Be suspicious of unsolicited calls, texts, emails, home visits, health fair booths, and other public venues that ask for this information.
You cannot pay to put your name on a list or to get early access to the vaccine. 
You will not be solicited door-to-door to receive the vaccine. 
You likely will not need to pay anything out-of-pocket to get the vaccine during this public health emergency. Carefully review your Medicare Summary Notice or Explanation of Benefits for errors or claims for products or services that you didn't receive.
Contact your local Senior Medicare Patrol for help. Call 1-877-808-2468 or visit 
Source: Senior Medicare Patrol. (December 2020). SMP Consumer Fraud Alert: COVID-19.
Upcoming webinar

Stay tuned for the February LTSS webinar

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Check back next month for the February LTSS webinar, “Fall Prevention for Native Elders,” on Wednesday, February 24. A. Sixtus Dominguez (Rarámuri/Apache), MCRP, Tribal Injury Prevention Program Coordinator for the Albuquerque Area Southwest Tribal Epidemiology Center and member of the Albuquerque Area Indian Health Board, Inc., will present.

Additional resources and information

National AI/AN COVID-19 vaccine campaign

The COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, but they have come with a whirlwind of questions. When can I get it? How long will it last? What are the side effects?

The Urban Indian Health Institute has dedicated a webpage to answering these questions as part of their AI/AN COVID-19 vaccine campaign. The webpage includes information that explains the vaccines from the viewpoint of AI/AN health professionals through blog posts, fact sheets, and a resource library.

Thumbnail images of the first pages of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine information fact sheets from the Urban Indian Health Institute

Two vaccines are available: one from Moderna and one from Pfizer-BioNTech. While both are about 95% effective and require two doses, there are some minor differences between the two.


Moderna's vaccine can be stored in normal freezers, so it is easier for small facilities to keep on hand. This vaccine is recommended for people ages 18 and older. Learn more about the Moderna vaccine (PDF, 697 KB, 2 pp).


Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine must be stored in super-cold freezers, so it tends to be available from larger hospitals. This vaccine is recommended for people ages 16 and older. Learn more about the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine (PDF, 695 KB, 2 pp).

Peer mentoring to foster connections in long-term care

The ongoing pandemic has increased the risk for social isolation among residents in long-term care facilities. However, research suggests that efforts to foster lasting social connections among facility residents can help reduce loneliness and depression.

A recent study featured in Aging & Mental Health highlights the use of peer mentoring programs, which encourage supportive relationships between people with shared experiences, to strengthen long-term care residents’ sense of community and improve quality of life. The article also discusses ideas for adapting those programs to respect pandemic-related physical distancing requirements.

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Want to learn more about or discuss LTSS in Indian Country? Looking to connect with others working in the same field? Join the Tribal Affairs Group on LinkedIn. If you are a member of the group already, you can access it by clicking the group name under Groups on the left side of your LinkedIn landing page.
Caregiver’s corner

Exercise can help beat loneliness among elders

A group of elders exercising

From helping prevent falls to supporting heart health, exercise is a powerful tool in promoting overall wellbeing for elders. A recent study by the health care organization Cedars-Sinai points to an additional benefit: joining group exercise classes can reduce feelings of loneliness among elders.

Exercise classes or group fitness activities of any intensity level help elders to feel less lonely by staying physically active and socially connected with others. The study suggests that even virtual classes or activities are effective for decreasing loneliness.

To help ensure elders can enjoy the benefits of exercise, caregivers can help them find and sign up for activities that fit with their interests and capabilities, such as a yoga class or a walking group. Caregivers can also assist elders in streaming or logging in to virtual classes.

Funding opportunities

Rural Communities Opioid Response Program—Implementation

Application deadline: March 12

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) established the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program to reduce morbidity and mortality related to substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD), in high-risk rural communities. The program goal is to strengthen and expand SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services. HRSA plans to award 78 grantees up to $1 million. Learn more about this funding opportunity.

CMS CHART funding deadline extension

Application deadline: March 16

The deadline has been extended to apply for the Community Health Access and Rural Transformation (CHART) Model funding. The CHART Model supports rural health care providers in a broad redesign of their health care delivery systems. The program expects to award 15 grantees with up to $5 million each. Learn more about the CHART model.

Upcoming event

NCOA 2021 Age + Action Conference

Conference dates: June 7–10, 2021

The National Council on Aging holds an annual conference to share and discuss resources, ideas, and information to help ensure older adults can age with dignity. This year, the conference will be fully virtual. Learn more and register.

Age + Action 2021 Virtual Conference, June 7-June 10
Send Us Your News

Do you have news to share about LTSS in Indian Country? Send it to, and we'll include it in a newsletter. Contact us with other comments or feedback, too.

About the Newsletter

American Indian/Alaska Native Long-Term Services and Supports Solutions is published monthly by the CMS Division of Tribal Affairs to share information, funding opportunities, and resources with LTSS planners, tribal leaders, and supporters.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Indian Health Service Administration for Community Living