Director’s Note: Area Plan Update

| Senior Solutions News

by Mark Boutwell, Executive Director

For the past few weeks at Senior Solutions, we have been working on compiling the information for our Area Plan update to the Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living (DAIL). Within the Vermont Older American’s Act (OAA) policy, Senior Solutions is directed to prepare and develop an area plan for our service area for a three-year period. We submitted a new three-year plan in August of 2021. Area plans from each area agency on aging such as Senior Solutions support the State Plan on Aging developed by DAIL. The State Plan offers a framework for the ongoing operations of programs funded through the OAA and describes the coordination and advocacy activities the state will undertake to meet the needs of older Vermonters, including integrating health and social services delivery systems.

You can see how the primary goal in our new plan aligns closely with this framework: To strengthen the community infrastructure that supports the well-being and dignity of older Vermonters by leveraging relationships with our community partners and expanding our outreach. This also aligns with one of the goals in our new strategic plan: Senior Solutions will be recognized as a core community resource and social change agent.

Within each of these plans are strategies for achieving these goals. Over the coming months we will be exploring new ways to collaborate with community partners to address the needs such as food insecurity, caregiver burnout, and access to services for older Vermonters in our area. An example of this is how our National Council on Aging (NCOA) and 3SquaresVT outreach specialists have been active throughout our service region, making themselves available at senior centers and community centers to connect with folks in need of benefits and services.

Over the past year, I have been active as a core member of the Windham Region Senior’s Health Collaborative. The vision of the Collaborative is to: assure a sustainable, replicable, and scalable system of care, services and incentives that will support older Vermonters (over 60) across the Windham Region and help create an infrastructure and patterns of practice that allow citizens to attain and maintain the level of health they desire and are capable of achieving.

Another example of integrating health and social services delivery systems is my participation in the Woodstock Area Collaboration, The HUB, whose vision is: Our communities are healthy, resilient, and caring. They provide responsive support to residents experiencing serious disruption or challenges in daily life. And whose mission is to: marshal and coordinate resources of multiple organizations and services to provide the best response to neighbors in need, to reduce barriers to seeking and receiving help, and to promote programs that strengthen community and individual health and resilience. I was recently appointed to their steering committee.

You can see how the vision and mission of these organizations fit nicely with Vermont State Plan on Aging and our own area plan. My involvement with these organizations affords me numerous opportunities to strengthen the role of Senior Solutions as a core community resource and engage in advocacy and collaboration to strengthen the network of supports and services.

On a statewide and regional level, I have been named as one of six representatives of Vermont’s delegation to participate in the Master Plan on Aging (MPA) Multi-State Learning Collaborative. I will be attending an in-person MPA learning collaborative summit focusing on the first year of California’s Master Plan on Aging implementation, in September. This will be a tremendous opportunity for me to discover new approaches to strengthening the community infrastructure that supports the well-being and dignity of older Vermonters.

You can read the current area plan here.