Freeholders to Award Contracts for Senior Programs
TOMS RIVER – With 10,000 "baby boomers" turning 65 years old daily, Ocean County is prepared to assist its senior population as it navigates the aging process.
From help with nutritional needs to assistance with benefits, the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders is awarding 35 competitive contracts to a host of service providers in order to meet the needs of the largest senior population in New Jersey.
"We want our senior citizens to be aware that County government has established a network of programs and services that will assist them specifically," said Freeholder Director Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. "We provide our seniors with the tools to help them make informed decisions about their health care, and about their well being which ultimately provides them with a good quality of life in their retirement years."
The Freeholders are scheduled to award 35 competitive contracts in the amount of almost $2.4 million during their Jan. 22 Board meeting. The Office of Senior Services will oversee a total of 42 Area Plan Contracts with 22 governmental and non-profit agencies in 2014 totaling almost $7 million.
Late in 2013, the Freeholder Board approved six contracts for Community Services Inc. totaling $2,549,019 which includes the nutritional component of senior programs in Ocean County.
Community Services, Inc. plans to provide more than 72,000 congregate meals and over 195, 000 home delivered meals in 2014. In addition to the meals, nutrition education and nutrition counseling will be provided to 1,800 congregate and home delivered meals participants.
Community Services, Inc. also will provide additional support services such as outreach, benefits screening, transportation, language translation, etc. The contract for the Kosher Home Delivered Meals program is being awarded at the Jan. 22 meeting to Lakewood Community Services, Inc. for almost 24,590 meals which will bring Ocean's home delivered meals total to 219,590.
"The purpose of these services is not only to provide a meal but also to provide a complete package of supports that enhances good health in order to remain independent; 71 percent of home delivered meals clients are at high nutritional risk and 97 percent are at moderate to high risk," Vicari said. "The amount of money that it costs to spend one day in an emergency room for a senior could provide an individual meals for an entire year.
"These programs provide great benefits for our seniors, especially those that are the most frail and in need," he said. "Not only is there nutritional value but also social contact which is so important for seniors that may be shut-ins."
Other support areas available to seniors include transportation, legal services, caregiver services, care management, benefits screening, chore services and a host of others.
"More than 522,000 units of service are planned for 2014 through these contracts," Vicari said.
Access to information and assistance is a major focus for the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.
"In 2013, there were 113 presentations made to the public," Vicari said. "Senior Services staff responded to a total of 9,313 callers/walk-ins and there were 12,114 visitors to the Senior Services website as of Dec. 31, 2013."
Outreach/care management sites plan to provide 20,205 older adults and caregivers with 65,796 units of information and assistance/assessments in 2014.
"We will continue to meet the challenge of the 10,000 "baby boomers" a day turning 65 with essential Medicare information and education," Vicari said. "We are first in the state for the number of State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) contacts, with more than 9,000 for 2013.
"All of the supports such as access, community support, home support and nutrition support are designed to improve the quality of life for older adults at all stages of aging from the newly arrived senior who benefits from Medicare counseling, educational programs, health screenings to the older frailer individual who receives a home delivered meal or home health aide visit," Vicari said. "Our guiding principle is to keep people in their own homes in their own communities for as long as possible."
Ocean County also is participating in a new program for 2014 called the Sandy Assistance Relief Program for Seniors and Disabled.
The program provides limited assistance to those individuals whose primary residence sustained damage during the storm for expenses not fully covered by insurance, FEMA, and other programs. The program will be administered through the Ocean County Board of Social Services (OCBOSS). The Office of Senior Services is working with the OCBOSS to kick the program off in the very near future. For further information, please call the Ocean County Office of Senior Services, 732-929-2091, 1-877-222-3737.