Out of the almost 200,000 people living in the county, according to the U.S. Census Bureau about 13.7% (27,400) are seniors, those 65 and above. We explored topics such as: What do our seniors need in terms of support? Are these needs being met or are there gaps or overlaps in services? How can we better connect our seniors into the community – such as new ways for them to volunteer or become more involved? How can we improve communication to our seniors?
Before reading the minutes, please note this announcement from Shereen Snare of the Council On Aging. The Clay County Senior Services Coalition held its first meeting at the Council on Aging on August 25th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Each organization was asked to come to the table with 5 of your top issues / gaps that you see in Senior Services in Clay County. If you’d like to connect with this initiative, please call Shereen at (904) 531-5021 to find out the outcome from the Senior Services Coalition first meeting.
Here’s a flavor our discussion on seniors. Please be aware as you read these notes that the overarching comment by almost every organization is that they are challenged trying to get the word out about what they do. Communication is a big challenge that we all identified.
Brad Burbaugh is the director of UF/IFAS (the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) and is based in Green Cove Springs. One of their many programs is food safety. They have 900 trained volunteers including Master Gardeners and Master Food Volunteers. Samantha Bane from the ILRC (Independent Living Resource Center), is an organization which supports those with disabilities to live independently. They provide hearing assisted devices for telephones and lend out other medical devices, including wheel chairs and walkers.
On the health side, we had Jose Morales and Cynthia Jackman, the director of nursing from the Clay County Department of Health and Karen Petyon from the Clay Behavioral Health Center. Each of these organizations focus on providing both prevention and treatment resources and education. Jose told us about the Community Health Assessment which is going on right now. Karen mentioned that Medicare won’t pay for group mental health sessions, a need that is hard to meet.
Angela Turk from United Healthcare shared what her organization does with seniors. Bianca Speight from Guardian Ad Litem participated in the discussion because many of her program’s volunteers are seniors. Lea Rhoden from Tobacco Free Partnership of Clay County spoke about challenges that tobacco use can raise and said she’d be back to add her voice to our discussion on youth.
Carol Weisenburg wore two hats – BASCA (Building Abilities for Special Children and Adults) and the Shepherds Center. BASCA focuses on taking care of individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities, and has residential homes and adult day training. The Shepherd Center includes many programs for seniors with a focus on aging in place by design. Carol also brought up the issue of the need for more affordable housing for seniors.
Margo Hay representing Community Hospice, spoke to the need for end of life care, both for the patient and the family. A frustration is when doctors won’t prescribe this care. Richard Hackelton from the Clay County Sheriff’s Office let us know about 2 programs that may be of interest to those supporting seniors. One is called Elder Watch, where a senior that lives alone can request someone from the community to check in on them daily to make sure they are okay. There is also the VIPS (Volunteers in Police Services) program. Currently there are 288 unpaid adult volunteers who assist the police in many projects.
Kathy Berger and Rebecca Padgett joined us from the Penney Retirement Community. Rebecca highlighted their skilled nursing, memory, and respite care they provide and that PRC is more affordable and available than many think. Kathy mentioned the several hundred volunteers at PRC and how they love to have people from the community come join them with their PET (Personal Energy Transportation) project. Marina Mathews joined us from the Moosehaven Community, which is a continuing care retirement community for seniors 65 and older. She shared how Moosehaven provides 2 admission options, one the traditional retirement program for members of the Moose and Brandon Place. It was striking to hear how both of these communities provide a broad array of services and living accommodations for seniors, but there are many misconceptions outside of their communities that they must routinely counter.
Sheree Ellingson, the owner of Senior Helpers in Orange Park, is a for profit company that provides nonmedical support to seniors, filling short-term needs to longer term care. Janey Fox from Mercy Support Services reminded us of the incredible network of support services that are available to seniors that can be accessed through the Resource Center. Doug Greenberg, was our meeting facilitator, and is President of the Clay County Literacy Coalition.
Herb Stiegellman is the curator of the Military Museum of Northeast Florida, based in Green Cove Springs. It contains many memorabilia that are important to our seniors, and is a great place to visit. Sandy Coffey, from the Orange Park Library was with us to learn about the many services that she can share with her coworkers and library patrons. Our Clay County libraries give access to the AARP tax program, which is of great interest to seniors.
Jerry Carter from Career Source Northeast Florida spoke about a program Experience Works, helping people over 55 get jobs; veterans are given priority. These are usually low-income situations where individuals are placed in nonprofits for 18 to 20 hours per week and are taught job skills. Norrie Berlio from DCF / APS Adult Protective Services spoke her organization’s responsibility under Florida law to investigate reports of adults that are abused, neglected, or exploited. She spoke about a home care stipend for disabled adults, but funding is a challenge for her organization, especially to support the investigations.
The Council on Aging of Clay County (a nonprofit, not a governmental agency) was represented by its Executive Director Drew DeCandis and Marketing person Shereen Snare. Drew spoke about the Adult Day Care services that are offered at the Green Cove Springs Center and soon to be opened a second center in collaboration with Moosehaven on their campus. The Council on Aging offers many services for seniors but faces several challenges that Drew and his organization are working to address. They desperately want to complete a fully-functioning kitchen at the Green Cove Springs Center and build some affordable housing for seniors. They are looking for sponsors and community support for their upcoming fundraiser Old Karts & Arts on October 10 (see flyer below) to build that kitchen.
Peace and Joy
From your Shaping Clay Team
Karen Wintress Samantha Bane Doug Greenberg Jackie Kujala 609-933-2666 904-881-6697 904-272-5988 904-449-4957