Agency History

History
The first staff members were hired in July 1974, and the Agency had its official opening the following October.  Since 1974 there has been a continuous growth in both the quantity and quality of services provided by the Agency. The 1974 budget of $53,000 for the establishment of aging services is now an annual budget of approximately $10 million for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
 
In its earliest years, the Agency provided seven (7) services. Today, Blair Senior Services, Inc. provides, directly or through subcontract, 28 different programs and services. These include: Health Insurance Counseling, Information and Assistance, Adult Day Care, Attendant Care, Care Management, Environmental Modifications, Family Caregiver Support Program, Home Delivered Meals, Medical Equipment and Supplies, Aging Waiver, Personal Assistance, Personal Care, PreAdmission Assessment, Placement Assistance, Domiciliary Care, Nursing Home Transition, Guardianship/Power of Attorney, Legal Services, Ombudsman, Protective Services, Transportation, Foster Grandparent Program, VOICE (Volunteer Opportunities Involving Community Empowerment), Senior Companion Program, Housing Assistance and Emergency Food and Shelter.
 
The majority of these services are provided directly by Blair Senior Services, Inc.  However, Adult Day Care, Legal Services, Personal Care and Personal Assistance are each subcontracted to corporate providers. Further, to offer consumer choice, since July 2001, multiple vendors have been available to offer consumers a choice of personal care and personal assistance providers.
 
Annually, the Agency helps thousands of Blair County residents, the majority of who are over 60 years of age, with services that are tailored to meet their individual needs. Active older adults have come to rely on the Agency to provide volunteer and recreational opportunities, exercise classes, or the socialization available at Senior Centers. Those with more complex needs, and their families, turn to the Agency to coordinate a care plan that includes services such as Personal Care, Senior Companion visits, Home Delivered Meals, Adult Day Care, Medical Equipment and Supplies, and Transportation to medical appointments. These care plans can help keep loved ones safely in their own homes.
 
Older adults depend on Blair Senior Services’ Home Delivered Meals to meet their nutritional needs. Numerous volunteers deliver meals to over 625 persons in the course of a week throughout Blair County. All meals meet one third of the recommended daily nutritional allowances for older adults.  In 1998 pureed meals were added for those with chewing or swallowing difficulties. In addition to the noontime meal, based on need, the Agency can also provide breakfast, evening or weekend meals.
 
As the Agency outgrew its original 450-meal capacity kitchen located in the Agency’s Altoona Senior Center, the Agency purchased and renovated a free-standing production facility which opened on June 11, 2002. Today, approximately 2,500 older adults depend on over 211,000 meals provided by the Agency on an annual basis.
 
Since 1975, starting with just two vehicles, the Agency’s Shared-Ride Transportation Program has assisted persons of all ages within Blair County. Today, Blair Senior Services operates a fleet of over 36 lift-equipped vehicles, and Agency drivers offer door-to-door assistance. Its facilities constructed in 1992 in Hollidaysburg, PA have undergone three additions throughout the years to meet demand for its services. 
 
Since 1984 the Agency has operated the County’s Medical Assistance Transportation Program. This Program assures that Medicaid recipients in need have access to transportation to any needed medical care that is covered under Pennsylvania’s Medical Assistance Program.
 
Agency Care Managers coordinate a variety of in-home support services to help people to continue to live in the comfort of their own homes. They arrange hands-on assistance with personal care activities such as bathing, dressing and grooming, along with various household tasks. Such programs as the Federal or State Family Caregiver Support Program can also help caregivers of consumers with financial reimbursement for services purchased. 
 
In 1998, the Agency implemented the Aging Waiver Program which provides community-based, long-term living services as an alternative to nursing home care for consumers who meet medical and financial eligibility requirements. 
 
The Agency helps individuals and their families with the process of selecting the least-restrictive living arrangement when an individual can no longer live independently. Since 1989, the Agency has conducted PreAdmission Assessments which provide a comprehensive assessment of a person 18 and older who is seeking a level-of-care determination prior to admission to a long-term care facility.  Then, in 2006 the Agency began Nursing Home Transition efforts which help to identify individuals residing in nursing homes who could live at home with community-based services and support, and provides assistance to those who wish to transition. In FY 2013-2014 the Agency transitioned 39 consumers from nursing homes back into community living. 
 
Blair Senior Services, Inc. sponsors two Senior Service Corps Programs; the Foster Grandparent Program and the Senior Companion Program. Since the early 1980s, these programs have enabled older volunteers to share their time and talents, improving the lives of residents in Blair County.  The Foster Grandparent Program serves children from birth to age 21 and the Senior Companions serve older adults.  As of March 31, 2012 the Agency discontinued it's sponsorship of the National Senior Service Corp Program's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.  Effective April 1, 2012 the Agency established an internal volunteer program called VOICE (Volunteer Opportunities Involving Community Empowerment).  The program allows individuals to volunteer their time and efforts in a number of vital programs and services provided directly by Blair Senior Services, Inc.  Trained volunteers participate in such areas as Home Delivered Meals, VITA income tax preparation, APPRISE health insurance counseling, Ombudsman, Healthy Steps in Motion, telephone reassurance, Senior Centers and clerical functions.
 
For a number of years, the Agency maintained nine (9) Senior Centers located throughout concentrated population areas of the County. Over the past years, this number has been reduced to four (4) to improve cost effectiveness and quality programming.  Group dining, socialization, educational and recreational activities are now offered daily at Centers located in Altoona (Central Blair Senior Center), East Freedom (Southern Blair Senior Center), Tyrone (Northern Blair Senior Center) and Williamsburg.
 
The Agency provides crisis intervention services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to older adults who may be victims of abuse or neglect. For those who have no other responsible party to manage their personal and/or financial needs, Blair Senior Services, Inc. serves as Power of Attorney or Guardian.
 
Since 1989, the Agency has also managed the County’s Housing Assistance Program which serves persons of all ages who are homeless or near homeless. Case Managers can provide assistance with rent, utilities, security deposits and budget counseling. Emergency food and shelter funding is also available to those meeting eligibility requirements.
 
To meet an unmet need and broaden its funding base, the Agency began CHOICES in December 2010.  This pilot program, unique in Pennsylvania, created a private pay line of service for a fee to residents and/or their families, reaching a segment of the older population who would otherwise not be served by traditional Area Agency on Aging (AAA) services.
 
Currently, Blair Senior Services, Inc. employs 78 full-time, 43 part-time and 14 casual status staff members. These 135 employees work in one of seven (7) divisions within the Agency which include: Administration, Long Term Living, Nutrition/Centers, Regional Apprise, Local Apprise, Transportation, and Housing/ Medical Assistance Transportation.
 
Today’s experienced and dedicated Agency staff will be faced with enormous challenges. Meeting the service needs of the fastest growing segment of the county, the 85+ population, will be very difficult especially should funding from the Commonwealth continue to remain flat.