How hard can it be to get information about elder care services?
The Town’s Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich found out the hard way, calling one state agency for a list of certified home care providers and being bounced around to others before ending back at the first, without any result.
“It was a Kafkaesque experience” of dealing with the state bureaucracy, Redlich reported to the Senior Advisory Committee at its May 15 meeting. Ultimately, social worker Saul Richman of Tri-County Community Action “came to the rescue” with a list of home care agencies, she said.
Redlich’s experience illustrates the difficulty that families face in trying to arrange care for loved ones, and to get accurate information about available services to enable aging in place.
Home care services are especially important, since island residents continue to reach out to Redlich for leads on available on-island caregivers. Here on Block Island, she told committee members, “we go by local reputation” to suggest people to provide in-home care. But all the caregivers she knows of are busy, and the mainland organizations providing in-home care are working under state government and insurance company requirements for individuals’ certification and agency licensure.
Ironically, Redlich said she got the state agency contact information at an awards luncheon honoring three Rhode Islanders who have worked to improve the lives of seniors.
She and MaryAnn Seebeck, the Town’s Human Services Coordinator, attended the May 8 event sponsored by the Senior Agenda Coalition of RI. According to the Coalition’s web site (https://senioragendari.org/), its mission is: “to mobilize people to achieve power in order to implement an agenda that improves the quality of life of older Rhode Islanders” through “community organizing, public education and legislative advocacy.”
The event’s theme, Redlich told the Committee, was helping people stay in their homes and communities. “It was very reassuring that we can connect” with other advocates for seniors throughout Rhode Island, she said.
Redlich said SAC members had been working on the survey for months. “It’s beautiful,” said Redlich. The members also gave a round of applause to committee clerk Millie McGinnes, who typed up the draft survey and posted it on the Survey Monkey platform.
The survey questionnaire is split, at McGinnes’ suggestion: one longer survey for seniors and other islanders, to help determine what services and resources they would need to stay in their homes; and a shorter survey for caregivers, paid or unpaid, about their working situations and need or desire for support and training.
Although the survey is meant to be completed online, although the Committee reaffirmed its earlier pledge to make paper copies available and help people complete the survey.
Another SAC initiative is already underway. Seebeck and Redlich have conducted seven home safety visits so far. “People like the bathmats and safety lights” they distributed, Redlich said. The supplies were purchased with a small grant from the R.I. Division of Elderly Affairs. The rest of the grant will be used to buy more items to give away in the fall.
Seebeck’s written followup reports summarizing recommendations to residents are “very thorough,” Redlich said. “On another level,” she continued, “the friendship, personal contact and neighborliness” during the visits have been worthwhile.
The Senior Advisory Committee invites members of the island community (ages 35 and over) to participate in two surveys — one considers issues related to aging on Block Island.
The second is for caregivers — paid and unpaid — about issues related to their work and needs.
Both are voluntary and anonymous.
To access them go to the links below:
Senior Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/8FVHHT9
Caregiver Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/83RHVY8
For more information on the Senior Advisory Committee’s services, contact Senior Coordinator Gloria Redlich at at [email protected] or at 401-486-9278.