When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Council on Aging (COA), a WeTHRIVE!℠ partner, worked quickly to meet the needs of the vulnerable population it serves.
But it didn’t stop with the 26,000 older adults and people with disabilities enrolled in their programs. “We started to get lots of calls from older adults in the community who needed help but weren’t connected to Council on Aging,” said Nancy Green, COA relationship manager. “Anyone who called in received help.”
For COA, protecting the elderly meant taking action when the pandemic started, as well as planning ahead to be prepared for another COVID-19 surge or emergency.
Helping a WeTHRIVE! community:
When storms hit the area in April, Council on Aging was quick to help residents of senior living complexes that lost power in the WeTHRIVE! community of Mt. Healthy. The agency provided meals, flashlights, ice, and other support. Read more about COA’s response here.
Nancy says the agency’s first change was moving from face-to-face care management to tele-case management. “It was obvious from talking to clients that folks weren’t able to go to the grocery store to get food, personal care products, and other needed items,” Nancy said.
To help these seniors, COA started out by delivering more than 15,000 14-day meal supply boxes. Then it partnered with LaRosa’s, Taste of Belgium, Frisch’s, C&M BBQ, La Soupe, and Chef Anthony Jordan to deliver “comfort” meals to low income older adults living in senior apartment buildings in COA’s five-county service area. More than 11,000 meals have been delivered to date, in addition to COA’s regular home-delivered meals program.
To combat the isolation caused by the pandemic, COA created a program where volunteers call seniors to touch base, see how they are doing, and find out if they need anything. “Adopt-a-Senior is an additional layer of support for the vulnerable population,” Nancy said.
The program serves another purpose as well. “There are a lot of people who want to volunteer at this time and they don’t know how to safely do this, and do it where they can have an impact,” Nancy said. “So this is an area we’re developing right now.” For more information on Adopt-a-Senior, click here.
COA is part of The Health Collaborative’s Greater Cincinnati Disaster Preparedness Coalition, which facilitates regional coordination and collaboration in response to COVID-19.
As part of this, COA designed an expanded version of its FastTrack Home services for older adults who are discharged home from the hospital and need additional services, like meals, transportation, home health care, and care management. “If we go through a spike in hospitalizations, we’re ready for that,” Nancy said. “We’ll be ready to implement this for hospitals.”
The agency is also working with The Health Collaborative to prepare for COVID-19 outbreaks in congregant living sites. “We’re really focusing a lot on the congregant housing area, since they’re living somewhat independently,” Nancy said. “That’s the vulnerable group we really have to watch for a surge.”
COA worked with area health departments, The Health Collaborative, and other partners to develop education materials for residents and managers at senior apartment communities in COA’s service area. The materials were sent to more than 160 apartment buildings and included enough education materials and masks for all residents at each location – more than 8,500 older adults in total.
Council on Aging deliveries to date:
15,000+ 14-day meal supply boxes
11,000+ comfort meals from restaurants like Taste of Belgium
800+ household supply boxes
8,500 seniors received COVID-19 education materials & masks
COA is a WeTHRIVE! partner. For more information, visit www.help4seniors.org. You can read more about COA’s COVID-19 efforts in this article by Cincinnati Magazine.