Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
Peabody United States of America
The City of Peabody has always been extremely supportive of its senior population. In 2016 we not only celebrated the City’s 100 birthday but also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Torigian Senior Center building. Over the past 25 years when several communities throughout the Commonwealth underfunded their local Council on Aging or even questioned their very existence, the City of Peabody was a shining example of how a community cares for its most deserving senior population through a well-supported senior center. The Peabody Council on Aging was established by a City Ordinance in 1959. As we take a look back we can see that many of our services, programs and activities that are provided were based on the 1965 Older Americans Act. We take great pride in our transportation, nutrition and social service departments all cornerstones of the Older Americans Act. In 1980 the COA moved from their space at the Knight of Columbus Hall to the renovated PHA Seeglitz building and became the home of the senior center for the next ten years. In 1991 the newly built Torigian Senior Center with 33,000 square feet of space opened allowing us to add an Adult Day Health program to our many services. The Adult Day Health Program not only allowed families much needed respite care but also stimulated the participants that attend the program. As we know from countless recently published articles social isolation exacerbates dementia, can lead to depression and increased serious health issues.
Another important service that the PCOA provides is transportation. Project Mobility started with one van that was used to transport seniors to a local schools to attend a lunch program. Currently, 10 full time drivers transport Peabody seniors, aged 60 years and older, and disabled Peabody residents to medical appointments, shopping, and other errands. Seniors are also transported to the senior center for lunch and to participate in classes and activities or to attend our Adult Day Health Program on site. Each year the transportation department provides close to 48,000 door to door rides per year. If we look closer at percentages we note that 28% of the transports were to attend our Adult Day Health program, 24.5% were for medical appointments, 12% were to attend the lunch program, leaving 9.5% for shopping and 26% for miscellaneous trips. Three years ago we started a shuttle service transporting Veterans to the Boston VA Medical Center in Jamaica Plain. We identified the need of lack of low cost transportation into Boston for our veterans. We had great concerns with an aging WWII veteran’s traveling into Boston to for appointments at the hearing clinic. I am happy to report that this transportation program has been extremely successful allowing many Veteran’s to receive hearing aides and access to other health services offered at the Boston facility. Of the 349 senior centers in Massachusetts we operate the only Adult Day Health Program in the state managed by a COA. Over the last several years other senior’s centers have opened supportive day programs without the medical component. This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary of our program the Roger B. Trask Adult Day Health Program managed by the Peabody Council on Aging. For the past twenty five years our program has provided both wonderful care to the participants as well as incredible support to their caregivers. We are extremely proud of our program and the care that is given each and every day to our clients. Last year the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to license all of the ADH programs operating in the state. We applied for licensure and after our recent inspection from DPH, we can proudly state that we are now a licensed facility. One change that we made to our program before applying for the license was to add a full kitchen. Our main commercial kitchen prepares the meals but the kitchen added so much to the ADH program. We also purchased a meal delivery system similar to ones used in hospitals with covered dishes over heated plates allowing the meal to remain hotter for a longer period of time. Changing the meal services was expensive, but we felt it provided a much better product. One of the other new requirements for licensure was to contract with a registered dietitian 4 hours quarterly to evaluate our monthly menus and observe our nutrition program. The RD was impressed with the meal delivery system and was extremely complimentary of the meals served. Most ADH program receive their food from an outside caterer. We are fortunate to cook the meals on site. With the increased cost of licensure we have still managed to keep the private pay rates at $59 per day slightly over the Mass Health rate and we continue to offer scholarships to clients in need. We will reevaluate the private pay rate in the spring as it has been quite costly adding this additional licensure requirements. Many of the surrounding ADH programs charge $80 to $100 per day for private pay clients. Social Services (outreach department) is another cornerstone of the Older Americans Act. Daily two licensed social workers and three outreach workers assist seniors with applications for fuel assistance, SNAP program, housing, health insurance and other information and referrals for many other programs and services. Activities: The senior’s at the center are an extremely active group. Exercise is an important part of their weekly routines. It helps to maintain flexibility as well as strong bones. A large number of participants are in our health and wellness classes. We currently have aerobics three times per week, Bocce, corn hole, ballroom dancing, chair yoga, line dancing and Zumba classes. We have exercise classes that take a more therapeutic approach to building a strong core. Our fitness room is extremely popular. We have added two new groups this year: a walking club and a Tia Chi class that meets later in the afternoon. We also host eleven large functions throughout the year with 350+ in attendance. One of the most important jobs that we do in our senior center is to keep people active and engaged in the community as isolation is one of the most destructive forces facing the senior population toady as it can lead to numerous health issues especially depression.
Volunteers: This was another wonderful year for volunteer participation at the Peabody Council on Aging (PCOA). This year alone volunteers donated 34,463 hours of their time and talents to enhance the services provided by the PCOA. The staff and board members show their appreciation to over 300 volunteers by hosting an annual holiday pie event and Friends of the Peabody Council on Aging sponsor the annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon in June at the Danversport Yacht Club. We rely so heavily on our volunteer workforce that we hope that the two special events show how much we truly appreciate all of their hard work. Nutrition Program: The seniors that attend the daily nutrition program are extremely pleased with the meals that are served as documented in yearly evaluation and daily attendance. The total number of meals served last year were 38,442 consisting of 17,669 congregate meals, 8,526 café meals, 7,915 meals served in the Roger Trask ADH program, leaving 4,332 meals that were served at our special events luncheons. Breaking the numbers down even more we see that 16.5% of the seniors for the nutrition program travel in on our buses leaving 83.5% of the seniors using their own vehicles to attend the program.