American Rescue Plan Act- Older Adults, People with Disabilities, and Improving Neighborhoods to provide places to call home.
With the American Rescue Plan Act funds, communities have a powerful opportunity to make a difference in the lives of older adults. Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities has nearly 50 years of experience in identifying needs and providing options for these individuals. We have combined this experience with our current participation in AARP’s Age Friendly/Livable Communities work (https://www.aarp.org/livable-communities/) to formulate recommendations for leaders to consider as they allocate these supportive funds.
Direction Home has been working with counties to leverage our established networks to serve older adults through accessible and meaningful programs throughout the pandemic. If you have any questions on how we could assist in the delivery of any of these services, please contact Matt Reed, Senior Vice President-Communications and Administration at firstname.lastname@example.org or Abigail Morgan, Chief Operating Officer at email@example.com .
Food on the Table – Through the pandemic the number one request we have received is for meal assistance. Older adults and people with disabilities have felt the need of home delivered meals as they distance themselves from the public to avoid infection possibilities. Direction Home has provided over 80,000 “grab and go” meals and over 70,000 home delivered additional meals through previous COVID-19 support dollars and can quickly replicate this service. We also administer the local farmer’s market and restaurant voucher programs providing additional options for those seeking assistance with meals.
- Restaurant Vouchers
- Home Delivered Meals
- “Grab and Go” sites (using former congregate meal locations)
- Farmer’s Market Vouchers
Safe and Affordable Housing - There have been many options for those seeking to avoid foreclosure and lose their housing during the pandemic. There are still significant barriers to housing that is safe and functional for older adults. Direction Home manages programs to identify needs, link individuals to resources, and provide home modifications using local contractors.
Communities should also consider the creation of more affordable housing for older adults and people with disabilities with one-time funds. The need for this housing inventory will grow as our population ages.
- Home Modifications
- Education and Access
- Legal Assistance (evictions)
Access to People, Places and Activities – Communities should ensure that older adults and people with disabilities have access to loved ones through online options, safe places to gather and experience pastimes, and activities that are compatible with differing levels of ability. Direction Home has worked with community partners to provide access to the internet though devices, art classes that reduce stress and isolation and more.
There continues to be significant investment needed in making our communities livable for all. Community leaders should consider aging and disability needs in their planning for the following:
- Computer and Internet Access
- Targeted Communication for Older Adults
- Arts for All
- Wellness Training
- Sidewalks and Crosswalks
- Parks and Activities
- Sports for All
Caring for Those at Home – many older adults require some in-home assistance as ability levels change. Losing the ability to drive or cook for oneself for example do not automatically mean someone is unable to be independent in the community. Through investment communities can ensure that everyone has access to the services and direction needed to remain where someone chooses to call home.
Communities should consider investing in pilots that build direct care workforces that provide hand-on care, services for in-home support, and other methods of care coordination. Direction Home has proven programming in place that can provide proof-of-concept for these options.
- Direct Care Workforce Development- Home Health Care
- Family/informal Caregiver Support Programs
- Aging-in-Place Pilot- Care Coordination
- Home Medical Equipment (incontinence and other)
- Chore/Heavy Cleaning (exterminations)
- Telehealth Equipment
Safe and Accessible Communities- Investment in one-time community improvements that make neighborhoods safer and more accessible would provide many opportunities for older adults and people with disabilities to live their best lives. Direction Home has worked with partners to advocate for age friendly livable communities. There are many ways that leaders can start this important work, and Direction Home can help.
Communities should take this opportunity to evaluate and invest in supports and improvements that have been lacking including:
- Sidewalks and Crosswalks
- Community Policing/EMS
- Minority Outreach
- Community-wide Internet Access
Accessible Transportation – The ability to transport to appointments and other needed venues continue to be one of the most requested services we receive. Communities should consider investing in transportation options that would increase mobility and independence, grow the success of older adults, and provide needed infrastructure to our neighborhoods.
- Medical Transportation Providers
- Non-Medical/Public Providers
- Traditional vs. Non-traditional options such as ride-sharing pilots
Quality Service in Nursing Homes
No segment of our population has been more significantly impacted by COVID-19 than those receiving care in Ohio nursing homes. The effects of over twelve months of isolation, illness and loss have left deep and lingering impressions on residents, families, and caregivers. Now is the time to invest in improvements in care for our most frail and dependent who have endured so much during the pandemic.
- Long-term care culture change initiative
- Internet access for residents to connect with families, advocates, and community resources