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Advisory Council Discusses Plan to Address Aging Population

At the August 25, 2016 meeting, the Barnstable County Health and Human Services Advisory Council hosted the panel discussion “Planning for Older Adults on Cape Cod”.  As Aging and Disability is one of the Department of Human Services’ four main priorities outlined in the Barnstable County Human Service Plan 2014 – 2016 pdf icon, the Department asked the Advisory Council and panel members for information that will assist in identifying areas of unmet need and possible roles for the Department in addressing those needs.  The results of the discussion will inform the next Human Service Plan which will guide the Department’s work over the next few years.

Patty Watson, Department Project Specialist, presented a summary of the Department’s current and past efforts in the supporting older adults including: administering the Regional SHINE program, underwriting Cape Cod Community College’s Gerontology Intensive Series, creating and maintaining on- line resource directories for aging and disability, and coordinating $1.4 million/year Prevention and Wellness Trust Fund’s chronic disease self-management and fall prevention programs.

HHSAC 3. 8-25-2016The panelists provided a range of perspectives from regional service agencies and councils, accessible transportation, towns, and a model of an age-friendly town.  Panel members were: Ellen McDonough, Clinical Director of Elder Services Cape and Islands; Chris Hottle, Director Provincetown COA and Lynne Waterman, Director Mashpee COA, of Councils on Aging Serving Together (COAST); Madeline Noonan, Director of Town of Barnstable Senior Center; Tom Cahir, Regional Administrator of Cape Cod Regional Transportation; and Kathi Bailey, Director Yarmouth COA of Age-Friendly Yarmouth.

Vaira Harik, Department Senior Project Specialist, moderated the discussion that resulted in identifying priority needs, service gaps, and a willingness of participants to work together addressing the issues.  Major areas of need for the Cape’s vulnerable older adult population were identified as housing, transportation, and caregiving.  Interwoven in these main categories are many issues affecting all age groups on the cape, some of which are economic security, behavioral health, outreach/access to services, and food security.  The Advisory Council generally agreed that a coordinated regional plan would position Cape Cod to procure resources to address current needs and prepare for the increasing demands on towns and service providers supporting older adults.

Ms. Harik brought the discussion to a vote in which the Council advised the Department of Human Services to create a work group to discuss the development of an age-friendly regional plan.  19 attendees committed to joining the group.  The Department will inform Advisory Council members about the details of the age-friendly regional plan work group this fall.

The Barnstable County Health and Human Services Advisory Council, in conjunction with the Department of Human Services, is responsible for providing advice concerning the human service needs of the residents of Barnstable County.  A major purpose of the Advisory Council is to assist in the development of the Barnstable County Human Service Plan 2014 – 2016 pdf icon which identifies health and human service needs of Barnstable County in order to prioritize issues for action by County government.