With approximately 200,000 senior citizens calling Ocean County home, the Ocean County Board of Commissioners is making certain programs and services to address the needs of an aging population are in place for the New Year.
“The Board of Commissioners meeting agenda for Jan. 17 includes 27 contracts providing 55 programs that help to keep our seniors living independently and maintaining a good quality of life,” said Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Barbara Jo Crea. “Providing the best services and programs to our seniors has been and continues to be a priority of this Board.”
Crea, who is liaison to the Office of Senior Services, reviewed the various services available at a preboard meeting Jan. 10.
The contracts, funded in part by the federal government, state government and the Board of Commissioners cover the priorities determined during public hearings on the county’s Area Plan.
“Ocean County takes all the necessary steps to make sure the programs and services we fund meet the priority needs of our senior residents” Crea said. “We work within the guidelines of the Older Americans Act in order to maximize the amount of federal funding we receive for these programs.”
Ocean County expects to receive $3.1 million in federal funding, $1.3 million in state funding and the county’s allocation for the programs is expected to be $3.1 million.
“Under these contracts, Ocean County will provide services addressing transportation, home delivered meals, food insecurity, information and assistance, personal and in-home care services, housing and home repairs and modifications,” Crea said. “The Ocean County Board of Commissioners is committed to helping our senior citizens age in place with the dignity and respect they deserve and these services address many of the challenges affecting our elderly population.”
The Board is expected to award a $3.286 million contract to Community Services Inc., to provide home delivered meals, congregate meal services and other programs for the elderly.
“Home delivered meals is truly a centerpiece for our senior programs,” Crea said. “We have seen a rise in requests for this service and we are doing all we can to meet this need. Food insecurity is high amongst our seniors and this program continues to be a lifeline for so many that are homebound, isolated and unable to prepare their own meals.
Under the Community Services Inc. contract, the County anticipates providing more than 166,400 home delivered meals in the first six months of the New Year. An additional 3,000 meals will be provided at the senior nutrition sites throughout the County during the same time frame.
All totaled, more than 230,000 meals will be delivered in the first six months of the year by Community Services Inc. and other contractors providing similar services in Ocean County.
“The home delivered meal is much more than just a meal delivery,” Crea said. “It’s so important because in some instances this is the only contact some of our seniors have with someone during the day. It’s a health check, it’s a safety check. The home delivered meal drivers provide much more than food. They provide peace of mind for many of our seniors and are often the first to identity and report changes in the consumer’s health or well-being.”
A large percentage of the meals are prepared daily in the kitchen at the Ocean County Southern Service Center in Stafford Township and delivered across the county.
Community Services Inc. joins the other 26 funded agencies to provide a host of services to seniors including evidence based health promotion – chronic disease services to the elderly, social recreation and more.
“Our Office of Senior Services is the hub of all of these programs,” Crea said. “This is where our seniors can call or visit to access services and navigate all the programs available to seniors.”
In addition, Ocean County expects to contract with four new providers that are offering services to seniors.
SCAN Inc. will offer evidence healthy aging programs; Bright Harbor Healthcare Inc. will offer adult day care services, housing assistance services and assisted transportation services; Contact of Ocean and Monmouth counties will provide centralized telephone reassurance services and the Mental Health Association will offer care management services.
“Our seniors can choose from a number of programs and services that can help them in their daily lives – from home delivered meals, to visiting nutrition sites, to receiving long term care counseling and help with transportation or simply receive a reassuring phone call – all of this, and so much more is available,” Crea said.
To access services or for additional information, the Ocean County Office of Senior Services can be reached at 732-929-2091.