Aging forum fosters initiatives for services
By Dan Goodman
Since the 2019 Aging Services Forum, a lot of work has been done based on recommendations from the community. Here’s a quick look and summary of the work that has been done or is in progress:
1) Increasing community awareness regarding services provided by the Area Agency on Aging
Explore Your Options Charter (completed).
A charter team of aging professionals and community members was assembled in 2020 to review and revamp the Explore Your Options (EYO) directory of services, as a key element of making the public aware of aging services. The EYO was revised, improved, and distributed to everyone in Johnson County on the Best Times mailing list. The revised tool is also on the new Aging Services webpage.
Intake Charter (completed).
A second charter team discussed new options for improving the service intake procedures at the AAA. An online intake application (in addition to the existing information phone line) was designed, developed and tested internally and externally for feedback. The online intake will be placed on the new Aging Webpages.
Aging Webpage Charter (external testing began May 18).
A third charter team met in 2020 and 2021 to improve the existing Aging Service webpage, with an eye toward easier access and understanding of services and resources for older adults. The new webpage now has incorporated an online version of the Explore Your Options guide, the online intake application form, and updated content to optimize the experience of users
2) Enhanced funding of the Senior Care Act service.
For the county's fiscal year 2021, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved a budget of $250,000 to start a new County program, Aging Care Services, using the State Senior Care Act program as its model.
The Area Agency on Aging was able to add one additional Eligibility and Options Specialist and will serve 67 new clients with services such as homemaker, attendant care, respite care, and case management. The BOCC is currently considering an additional $250,000 for FY 2022 to serve 104 new clients.
3) Building a new, bigger kitchen to accommodate increasing demands on our nutrition program including home-delivered meals services
The county has studied the costs and needs and is beginning to consider options for another kitchen with increased capacity in future years. County leadership has acknowledged the importance of the nutrition programs and the need for an investment in a kitchen; however specific details are yet to be determined.
4) Increasing our in-home mental health care counseling services
In FY 2021, the BOCC approved an additional $8,500 for the Area Agency on Aging’s in-home mental health counseling program.
5) Creating an on-demand, point-to-point transportation system specifically to accommodate older adults in our community
The AAA continues to be supportive of options to help older adults, and to share the most affordable options available, including microtransit, RideKC, Catcha-Ride and transportation coordination.
Dan Goodman is director of the Johnson County Area Aging on Aging.