County agency wants to get word out

Department of Aging and Disabilities asking help to craft its message about available services

December 09, 2007|By Madison Park | Madison Park,Sun Reporter

The Anne Arundel County Department of Aging and Disabilities is seeking volunteers for a focus group to help the agency form a marketing strategy to promote its services.

Part of the problem, officials say, is that some people aren't aware of specific county services.

"That has been a concern of our department," said Jeffrey Balentine, assistant director of the Department of Aging and Disabilities. "We'll hear about people saying they haven't heard of our services, so we'll try to market our department and make sure they know what we offer."

In a forum for seniors in June, 22 showed up at the Pascal Senior Center auditorium, built to hold 186. Those who attended the meeting told county officials that some seniors weren't notified about events and services.

In July, the county's Department of Aging and Disabilities was awarded a $51,200 state grant to update its phone system and to launch a yearlong public information campaign to publicize its services.

Seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers are able to access services offered through the Department of Aging and Disabilities, which will link them to social services, the health department and different volunteer centers.

"We have people here who are able to help with senior issues and health department people and social services people to work with them as well," said Pam Jordan, the Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator. "It's a one-stop shop for the demographics over 55, or over 18 with disability or caregiver."

One senior citizen, Hil Yeskey, said she was familiar with the county's programs because she took care of her mother. But Yeskey said she's not sure that her friends and peers are aware of county services.

"You don't become aware until you have to be aware," she said. "That's exactly what happened to me."

She said she uses a booklet provided by the county "that pretty much has the information that I need."

The county's Department of Aging and Disabilities can help seniors navigate the Medicare Part D or help caregivers who are having difficulties caring for family members, Jordan said.

"The objective of the Department of Aging and Disabilities is to help maintain an independent lifestyle in the home of their choice as long as possible," she said.

The agency will consult with seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers to figure out how to best get the word out and use the Maryland Access Point grant to publicize services.

The agency is seeking a dozen volunteers in each of the three focus groups. Participants must be age 55 or older, a caregiver for a family member or friend or a person over the age of 18 with a disability.

Focus group participants should have their own transportation and be able to attend one of the following 2-hour sessions:

Wednesday, Dec. 12, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Pascal Senior Center 125 Dorsey Road Glen Burnie 21061

Thursday, Dec. 13, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. O'Malley Senior Center 1275 Odenton Road Odenton 21113

Friday, Dec. 14, 10 a.m. to noon Annapolis Senior Center 119 South Villa Ave. Annapolis 21401

Members of the focus groups will receive a stipend, and light refreshments will be provided. People who need special accommodations should give the agency a week's notice.

For additional information or to be considered for the focus group, contact Sandy Berkeley at 410-222-4464.

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