POPULAR RVNA PROGRAM CELEBRATES FIVE YEARS
HELPING SENIORS REMAIN HEALTHY AND INDEPENDENT AT HOME-COMING TO NEW FAIRFIELD
Five years ago, in response to a clear and pressing need for affordable, high-quality home health care and other services for independent seniors, the Ridgefield Visiting Nurse Association (RVNA) launched an innovative free service called Quality Living at Home, or QLAH.
Five years later that program is growing, thriving and providing a model for finding service providers for seniors who choose to “age in place” with help from vetted referrals to service providers.
“The QLAH program, created and funded by RVNA five years ago, has empowered many seniors with the information they need to remain independent in their homes with support from a safe, healthy, and socially connected environment. Today there are about 500 seniors that participate in and enjoy the benefits of this program in the Ridgefield and Redding areas,” said RVNA President and CEO, Theresa Santoro.
Now, in response to demand from that community, the program will be available in New Fairfield.
The nation’s elderly population continues to grow and the overwhelming preference of most seniors is to live at home as long as possible. This includes the more than 78 million baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964 who are demanding a more active and independent way to live in their later years. But traditional health care and other home-based support services can be costly.
Before the program was launched in 2008, RVNA consulted with other programs in the region and conducted its own 75 question survey of over 500 seniors in both Ridgefield and Redding. The majority of seniors said they wanted to continue to live at home. They also said that among their greatest concerns was having quality health care service such as home-based skilled nursing. They were also very concerned about the availability of transportation and being able to maintain their homes and properties. They said they were concerned about having enough money to live on. (In Ridgefield, for example, 51% of all households 75 and older live on incomes of less than $50,000 per year.)
In addition to the need, why did RVNA decide to launch the QLAH program? First, RVNA already had the infrastructure to build it. RVNA already operated 24/7 and had a call center that received hundreds of calls about services available to seniors. Second, RVNA also was linked to an existing network of doctors, health care providers and other community resources.
What evolved was a 24/7 community information center linked to a community resource wellness and a certified aging in place specialist, has run the RVNA information center since it was launched. In addition to healthcare services, resources available include referrals to documented, reference-checked electricians, plumbers, builders and other reliable sources of assistance for seniors.
In the past five years RVNA has also emerged as an effective advocate for seniors by helping them to provide for their special needs, or resolve seemingly insurmountable problems. “Five years has taught us how to marshal resources from all sorts of places for all sorts of things,” Ms. Barron said. “We started with a few essential services that we could offer to as many people as we could reach. Then the program took off in Ridgfield, expanded to Redding and is now expanding into New Fairfield,” she said. “Through our extensive network of community service providers we offer seniors the additional reach and clout they need to help get things done.”
“Our QLAH program is now one of the fastest growing parts of RVNA,” RVNA’s Theresa Santoro said. “We receive questions from as far away as Alaska looking for help for loved ones in our community. By connecting people to the services and the help they need to stay independent – anywhere any time — we help them remain in their own homes in the towns they have lived in and love.”
RVNA will be having their Quality Living at Home Launch with an information session for the seniors of New Fairfield on Wednesday, June 18th from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the New Fairfield Senior Center. Anyone interested in signing up for this free program or interested in learning more about the Quality Living at Home Program in New Fairfield should attend this event.
A second program will be scheduled for the public on Wednesday, June 25th from 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Come enjoy an informational evening with area experts. Light dinner provided at 6:30 pm. RSVP to 203.438.5555.