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Barnstable County’s Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone (SHINE) Program Celebrates 15 New Counselors

July 24, 2023 (Barnstable, MA) – The Barnstable County SHINE program recently celebrated fifteen newly certified SHINE counselors, following their successful completion of a six-week, forty-hour intensive training and testing program. The counselors are now part of a growing force of 73 volunteers who serve the SHINE program region wide.

In addition to volunteers from Cape Cod and the Islands, this graduating class included members of community-based organizations representing Elder Services of Cape Cod, Mass General Brigham Nantucket Cottage Hospital, Brewster Council on Aging, Harwich Council on Aging, and the Orleans Senior Center.

SHINE Counselors undertake time-intensive training and certification through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs on the various options available to Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. These include Medicare Parts A & B, Medicare Advantage (Part C), Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D), Medigap, Prescription Advantage, MassHealth, and other programs that help people with limited resources pay for health care costs.

In 2022, SHINE counselors contributed 4,553 hours, providing 5,665 Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers on the Cape and Islands with free health insurance information, including guidance on how to maximize benefits and minimize cost. Essential to the program’s success is a critical partnership with the local Councils on Aging, who schedule appointments, provide administrative support, assist with volunteer recruiting, provide confidential meeting space and computers for counseling sessions, and more.

Barnstable County SHINE Program Manager, Kristina Whiton-O’Brien, stated “As the over 65 population continues to grow on Cape Cod and the Islands, there is an ever-increasing need for this service. Healthcare can be complicated and difficult to navigate; the training our counselors receive enables them to explain these complexities in everyday language”. Whiton-O’Brien added, “We are incredibly grateful for our community partners who send staff to be certified, and especially for our local volunteers who are willing to commit time and dedication to helping our most vulnerable citizens.”

ABOUT CAPE COD & ISLANDS SHINE: Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone (SHINE) provides free health insurance information, counseling, and assistance to residents of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties with Medicare and their caregivers. Statewide, SHINE is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs. Locally, SHINE is administered by the Barnstable County Department of Human Services. The Cape and Islands Regional SHINE program is made possible with funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) through the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs, Barnstable County, and Cape Cod Healthcare Community Benefits Program.

ABOUT THE BARNSTABLE COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES: The mission of the Department of Human Services is to plan, develop, and implement programs that enhance the overall delivery of human services in Barnstable County and promote the health and social well-being of County residents through regional efforts that improve coordination of services. For more information, visit us at: Human Services Archive – Barnstable County (

ABOUT BARNSTABLE COUNTY REGIONAL GOVERNMENT OF CAPE COD: Barnstable County provides exemplary government functions and services to keep our community healthy and safe, promote sustainable growth, and offers a proactive, open government that enhances the quality of life for the citizens of Barnstable County. Learn more at

MEDIA CONTACT: Kristina Whiton-O’Brien, Program Manager |  | (774) 243-2953