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Young at heart PDF Print E-mail
Written by Erin LeBlanc   

For over 20 years the Northeast Colorado Area Agency on Aging, which covers six counties, has had one person per county as the Senior Service Coordinator/Long-Term Care Ombudsman/SHIP (Medicare Part D) Counselor and anything else that we could do to assist our 60 years of age and older population.

Colorado is growing, and as a community, our needs are growing; and with this comes the ARCH (Adult Resources for Care and Help) program.

Other states call the program ADRC (Aging and Disability Resource Center). In Colorado, the program was first piloted in Larimer County in 2006, followed by Mesa County, Pueblo County and El Paso in 2009. 2010 brought the ARCH program to Otero, Crowley, Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties. 2011 will be bringing the ARCH program to all six counties in northeast Colorado, as well as several others.

ARCH is an Aging and Disability resource center, serving individuals of all incomes and adult ages. This is where they can turn to for information on the full range of long-term support options and a single point of entry for access to public long-term support programs and benefits.

With this addition of ARCH to Area Agency on Aging, we feel the need for change; change can be good.

The six coordinators that cover northeast Colorado are doing some job shifting and county overlapping. Karen Ness from Sedgwick County will be covering her county as well as adding Phillips County as the Senior Service Coordinator and ARCH.

Those seniors, 60 and over, that are in need of County Express bus tickets, information about the Meet and Eat, home delivered meals, frozen meals and dental/hearing vouchers will contact Karen.

Regarding Medicare Part D, individuals would also call Karen (however, during open enrollment, all six of us will come back together to assist each other during those eight weeks).

I have been given the honor of long-term care ombudsman for Phillips, Sedgwick and Logan counties. The resident advocate for the other three counties will be Marlene Miller, with Senior Service and ARCH assistance going to the remaining three coordinators.

This will enable us to focus more on a specific part of our job and provide it with the utmost and highest quality of services to our elders and adults.

In my focused role as the long-term care ombudsman for three counties, some of my goals will be to work with the different communities (long-term care facilities) to be more resident-centered and focused on the person, not on their diagnosis or medication descriptions. Another goal is to better promote culture change to the nursing homes/assisted livings/secured neighborhoods in northeast Colorado.

When “facilities” move away from the medical model and become more deinstitutionalized, it is proven that our elders do better in a culture change environment and their health improves; and they are much happier. We want to take out of the equation, “patient in room 3A that is a diabetic and living in a facility” and change it to “Mrs. Smith lives in her home and is assisted by care providers to help her manage her diabetes.”

Seniors would rather stay at home or in a home-like environment and get care where they live, rather then live in an a facility that focuses on care. By 2050 one in five people in the United States will be 65 or older, and 12 million of them will need long-term care. As we move toward that generation, their needs will be greatly different from those individuals that we currently serve now. It’s an exciting time to be part of a great movement.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of us. More information and promotion about ARCH will be coming available; however do not hesitate to contact Karen to find out more.

The transition will start near the end of May and through the month of June.

Erin LeBlanc, Long-Term Care Ombudsman for Logan, Phillips and Sedgwick counties, 854-2949.

Karen Ness, Senior Service Coordinator/ARCH for Phillips and Sedgwick counties, 970-474-3736.