The Blair County Senior Olympics 2019 runs June 1st through June 17th, 2019!
Ages 50+ • $14.00 Registration Fee • Registration Forms must be received by May 17th, 2019!
Click for the registration form and booklet!
Dottie Hull has been a Blair Senior Services, Inc. volunteer for the past 7 years.
Dottie started as a volunteer with Blair Senior Services, Inc. in the Ombudsman Program. Dottie stated, “After I retired as a Registered Nurse, one of my nurse friends asked me to go along with her to see what the program was about. I decided it was something I would like to do.”
Dottie helps with facility visits in Blair and Bedford Counties. Her duties include talking with the residents to make sure their needs are being met and about the care they are receiving. Dottie states, “I also look at the facilities and make sure they are clean, odor free, fire extinguishers are in place, and review the menus. I make sure the residents are being treated with the respect and care they deserve. If they have any concerns, we discuss them and then I bring those concerns to the Ombudsman, Jaime Rose.” Dottie volunteers usually one day a month in Blair County and one day a month in Bedford County, or as needed.
When asked what she likes the most about volunteering for the Ombudsman Program, “With my nursing background this keeps me busy. It gives me something to do and a way of still caring for people. My favorite thing is the people. The wonderful people I work with and the residents,” Dottie said.
Dottie stated there wasn’t any one memory in particular that was special, but the special feeling she gets from helping and being around the residents is what is so special and meaningful for her.
Dottie said she would encourage anyone to volunteer for this program, but especially any retired nurses. She states, “The nursing background just helps you to know what to look for I think. Anyone can learn, but it gives you a better understanding. I encourage anyone to try volunteering for this program. It is a great experience for you and helps people in sometimes a difficult situation.”
If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please call 814-296-6336. For volunteering with any of the other programs at Blair Senior Services, Inc., please call 814-946-1235.
Jaime Rose has been working for Blair Senior Services, Inc. for over 7 years. She went to school at Shippensburg University and worked in another county for two years in the Ombudsman Program and other programs. She moved back home after being hired at Blair Senior Services for a position in the Aging Waiver Program in April of 2011. In July of 2011, Jaime moved into the Ombudsman Program.
Jaime is the Blair County Long Term Care Ombudsman. In her position, Jaime visits 43 long term care facilities. The Ombudsman visits with residents to determine if their rights are being upheld, needs are met, and concerns have been resolved. “No problem or concern is too small! The Ombudsman will help to resolve the issue,” states Rose.
When asking Jaime what she liked most about her job she stated, “No two days are alike. So it makes it very interesting. I would have to say the best part is the people. The residents I get to meet have lived such diverse lives. Our team of people I work with and our volunteers. They are all so passionate about what we do and are awesome people.”
Jaime said her favorite event is the month of October when they have “Residents Rights Month”. She travels to different facilities and says, “I really like being able to interact with the residents at the facilities. One of my favorite activities to do with them is the resident bingo. It’s so enjoyable seeing them get involved, educated and having fun at the same time.”
Jaime stated that the Ombudsman Program is always in need of volunteers to help with visiting the facilities. “Without our volunteers, this program wouldn’t be so successful. They truly make a difference and I appreciate every one of them” she stated. If you are interested in volunteering for this program, please call 814-296-6336.
Unanswered calls for help, improper medication administration, discharge or eviction without a proper notice, lack of respect for residents—these are examples of complaints that may be made by residents of nursing and other residential care facilities to state and local long-term care Ombudsmen. The Long Term Care Ombudsman Program is a consumer advocacy model intended to improve quality of care by helping residents of nursing homes and other residential care facilities resolve complaints about their care and rights. It was established as part of the Older Americans Act in 1978.
The word “Ombudsman” is a Swedish term that means citizen representative. The Blair County Ombudsman serves as an advocate for the rights of all residents in personal care homes, nursing homes/long term care facilities, domiciliary care homes and adult day centers. The Blair County Ombudsman serves 43 facilities within Blair County that includes a total of 2,320 beds within the homes.
Jaime Rose is the Blair County Long Term Care Ombudsman. She states, “The Ombudsman Program’s vision statement is ‘Advocate for those who can’t, support those who can, and ensure all long-term care consumers live with dignity and respect.’ I am responsible for resolving the problems of residents of nursing homes and residential care facilities. The Ombudsman provides an avenue for conflict resolution that may be otherwise unavailable to all residents. We strive to ensure dignity, choice and quality of life for all individuals in long term care. We can be their voice. No problem or concern is too small. Complaints can include: improper food temperatures, daily routine times, missing belongings or problems with staff or other residents. The Ombudsman will help to resolve the issue with the resident’s consent to pursue the complaint or concern.”
A key to the Ombudsman function is regular facility and resident visitation by the Ombudsman and volunteer Ombudsmen. The Ombudsman Program will have unannounced quarterly visits to each facility. This alone helps to ensure quality of living.
Through their visits, Ombudsmen can act as an impartial third-party regarding quality of care and resident rights issues. Their interactions and familiarity with residents can provide a working relationship between residents and staff members. This can benefit both parties to ensure best practices. (Although, we cannot comment to staff without the consent of the residents). Their visits to facilities may also act as a deterrent to issues negatively affecting the quality of care and the lives of residents and prevent the need for costly interventions by state officials later.
Ombudsman availability in facilities can assist residents and family members in knowing the complaint process, how and when to report concerns about quality of care, and making reports promptly.
Ombudsmen stress the importance of their role as representatives of the community in facilities and the personal connection that they have with residents. Some describe the visible presence of Ombudsmen as crucial in assisting older people who are too frail or afraid to draw attention to problems with their care. Because many nursing home residents do not have informal support systems or families and friends who visit regularly, an independent advocate can play a critical role in helping residents with their care and rights.
Although investigation and resolution of complaints are their primary responsibilities, Ombudsmen also have other roles, such as educating residents and families about resident rights and acting as mediators between residents, facility staff and government agencies. They may also assist residents who are making the transition if their facility closes and ensuring they are comfortable in their new home.
“Our job is to empower the residents to help themselves. We do a lot of education and training with the residents on their rights at the facilities. An example is the Resident Rights Bingo we organize. The residents come to a bingo game we have at their facility that highlights their rights and assists to educate them. They can win prizes just like in regular bingo games. This activity is received quite well with the residents of the different facilities and is a wonderful tool in educating them of their rights,” states Jaime Rose.
Along with the paid Ombudsman, the program relies heavily on volunteers. Rose says, “Our program is unique because we have 9 volunteers that help us. These volunteers help with visits to the facility, do paperwork and will report back when they notice something is wrong. We could not do all that we do in this program without the help and dedication of these great volunteers.”
Another part of the Ombudsman Program is the PEER Program. PEER stands for “Pennsylvania’s Empowered Expert Resident.” A PEER is a long term care resident who is trained to advocate for themselves to improve the quality of their own lives and the home they live in.
The program begins with a training course during which residents learn about the laws, licensing and regulations governing nursing homes and assisted living residences both in the state and nationally. It also teaches resolution steps and how to present their issues to the administration of a facility, the function of the Ombudsman, and more.
“Among the responsibilities of the PEER is to orient new residents to the facility, learn the proper personnel to contact for particular concerns, letting people know their rights, and being their support system,” explained Rose.
If you or someone you know could benefit from the Ombudsman Program or perhaps would be interested in volunteering for the program, please contact Jaime Rose at 814-296-6336.
Jack Futrick has been a Blair Senior Services, Inc. volunteer for the past 13 years.
Jack started his volunteer work with Blair Senior Services, Inc. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA). Jack stated, “Well, when you are retired it can be challenging to find things to do. I had taken a tax course many years earlier so I thought it was a good place to start.” In addition to VITA, Jack now volunteers for the Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program through Blair Senior Services.
Jack helps prepare consumers’ taxes through the VITA program during the tax season at our Northern Blair Senior Center location. If eligible, Jack will also assist consumers with Property and/or Rent Rebates after preparing their tax return. For the Farmers’ Market program, he interviews the consumers to see if they qualify and, if so, will issue the Farmers’ Market vouchers to them. With the Commodity Box program, he verifies the consumer’s or proxy’s identity and obtains signatures to confirm the consumer’s box was picked up for the month. At the time of recertification, he assists by checking ID and confirming income eligibility. “They are such great programs that really help the older adults in the area,” Jack said.
When asked what he liked the most about volunteering for Blair Senior Services, “I love to meet the people and when I am done helping them just the smiles on their face. The complete gratitude they have is such a great reward. I like meeting so many new people also,” Jack said. One special memory he has is of a woman who came in to have her taxes done. Jack explained, “Once I was done with her taxes and she saw how much she would be getting back in a refund, and the fact she wasn’t charged for the taxes being done, she started to cry with appreciation. I will never forget how grateful she was.”
Jack said they are always in need of help with the VITA program and all the volunteer programs at Blair Senior Services, Inc. “You should try volunteering. Such a rewarding feeling knowing you are helping others,” he said.
If you or your group is interested in volunteering for this program or any of the programs offered, please call Blair Senior Services, Inc. at 814-946-1235.
Tina Fultz has been working for Blair Senior Services since December 2012, when she applied for a position open with the Agency.
Tina is the Northern Blair Senior Center Coordinator for Blair Senior Services, Inc. In that capacity, Tina oversees the day-to-day operations at the Center, planning all activities and preparing and serving of the meals to the consumers who visit the Center. Tina also holds the paint classes at all of the Blair Senior Services’ Senior Centers. Tina said, “I used to attend paint classes with my friends and at one of the classes I thought to myself, ‘I could teach this at the Center!’ So it started and has really taken off. I now have a paint class every month at the Northern Blair Senior Center and every other month at the other Blair Senior Services Centers.”
When asking Tina what she liked most about her job she stated, “This truly is the best job I have ever had! It uses all my skill sets I have acquired over the years. The most rewarding thing is to work at a place where everyone loves and appreciates you. I feel that with my job. It is the most rewarding job I have ever had!”
Tina said one of many special memories she had while working at Blair Senior Services, Inc. was at a Phil McCaulley Concert at the Northern Blair Senior Center. She stated, “We had a group of Skills consumers who attended Phil’s concert here that day with our senior consumers. One guest was pretending to strum a guitar in the audience while Phil was performing. Phil called him up and actually put his guitar on the gentleman and had him play or strum along as he sang. The gentleman had the biggest smile and all that attended were standing up and clapping and cheering him on. It just filled my heart with so much love to see all this kindness for him and support for one another. Such a heartwarming experience!”
Tina stated that Blair Senior Services, Inc. is always in need of volunteers. She is always looking for volunteers at the Northern Blair Senior Center to help in the kitchen with cleaning and cooking. Also for volunteers to help teach a craft class, crochet class, etc. If you are interested in volunteering for this or for one of the many Blair Senior Services, Inc. programs, please call 814-946-1235.
What do you think of when someone says the words “senior center”? Do you picture older people sitting around playing bingo and shuffleboard? Eating bland meals while a television is blaring?
It is time to update your vision! Senior Centers are not what they used to be. Today’s Senior Center is a vibrant, action-packed combination of fitness center, information and resources, volunteering headquarters, a transportation hub and tasty lunch dining.
For older persons at risk of losing their self-sufficiency, Senior Centers are an entry point to an array of services that will assist them as they “age in place.”
Across the country, more and more people are beginning to recognize that their local senior center has changed as a gateway for older adults to connect with others in their communities. Senior Centers offer older adults vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent.
Senior Centers offer a wide range of health, education, recreation, volunteer and other social interaction opportunities for their participants that enhance dignity, support independence, and encourage community involvement. Centers are also a resource for the entire community, providing services and information on aging, and assisting family and friends who care for older persons.
Senior Centers aren’t just for card games! Sure, cards are available (and fun and challenging), but most Senior Centers offer far more than that! Everything from trips and special events to fine arts and crafts, music and dance, lifelong learning, and fitness and health programs can be found at the centers.
Angel Dandrea, Volunteer Program Supervisor for Blair Senior Services, Inc., states “Some of our most popular things to do at the Senior Centers are the exercise classes, paint parties and our evening dinner dances. The men really enjoy playing pool in our pool room at the Central Blair Senior Center.”
Senior Centers are a great place to find volunteering opportunities. Older adults who are looking for volunteer opportunities or paid volunteer opportunities to supplement their retirement income, should stop by their local senior center to learn about what is available. Blair Senior Services, Inc. offers stipend volunteer positions with plenty of training, such as the Foster Grandparent Program where older adults are making a difference in young lives by volunteering, or the Senior Companion Program where volunteers spend time enriching the lives of another older adult through companionship. The Senior Center staff are always looking for seniors who want to share their talents and knowledge with others in the form of no cost workshops or leading clubs at the Senior Centers. Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community.
Senior Centers are also a great place to get healthy. Health and fitness are areas that Blair Senior Services, Inc. has really expanded in recent years. Blair Senior Services’ Senior Centers offer programs such as light aerobics, Zumba, Yoga, and Tai Chi. According to Aubrey Lidwell, Community Services Program Coordinator at Blair Senior Services, Inc., “Our Centers have an overwhelming response to the exercise and Tai Chi classes with our four centers holding approximately 65 classes combined per week. Our instructors do a great job of incorporating all levels of fitness into the programs. The best part is that it is free to the seniors!”
Angel Dandrea states, “Senior Centers play a very important role in the lives of older adults today by encouraging them to become, and remain, social. Socializing can help older adults improve their physical health, reduce risks of depression, increase their cognitive functioning and create a sense of belonging. We have so many different things to offer and it varies at each center, which really helps the consumers with a variety of things to choose from. Participants can attend any of the activities at any center, not just the ones they may live closest to. Our vans are available for transportation by appointment during daytime activities.”
Senior Centers are one of the most accessible, friendly, and inexpensive places that offer programs and services that promote active engagement and enjoyment of life by older adults.
The following list of activities and services are typical of programs offered by the Blair Senior Services, Inc. Senior Centers:
Daily meals served at the Centers; Nutrition Education; Farmers Market Vouchers; Commodity Box Program
Light Aerobics; Yoga; Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention; Healthy Steps in Motion; Zumba; Cardio Circuit; Line Dancing
Blood pressure checks; flu shots; hearing assessments; health presentations; chronic disease and diabetes self-management workshops, etc.
Information and Assistance
Medicare counseling; referral and connection to appropriate community support services; Protective Services; caregiver information, etc.
Computer, Pinterest, Facebook Classes; Gardening Classes; Cooking Classes; Essential Oils Workshops
Tax preparation; rent rebate form assistance, etc.
Social Events and Programs
Musical entertainment, evening dinner/dances and paint parties; birthday parties; cards; pool table; paint and craft classes; etc.
These are just a few of the activities and services provided by Blair Senior Services’ Senior Centers. For more information or a complete list, visit their website at www.blairsenior.org.
Despite their variations, Senior Centers fill certain common purposes. “Whether it’s as a learning center or a place where people can come to find new ideas, to share their own ideas, be able to be creative, in a paint class or an exercise class, people want a common, safe, fun, helpful place to do that,” says Aubrey Lidwell.
“A personal touch is what sets our Senior Centers apart from other aging-related services,” Dandrea says. “If you talk to the people who come here, they would say it’s a warm and welcoming place. A place where they’re treated as individuals and responded to and respected. Where they’re known and can make it their place to socialize and meet friends.”
“One challenge is the term ‘Senior Center’, which can be off-putting in a culture in which people don’t want to think of themselves as aging or see themselves as older adults,” Lidwell states. “This is why we try to reinvent or add programs that are changing with the needs and requests of the consumers.”
There are many benefits to older adults who visit the Senior Centers. Some of which include:
Seniors who attend Senior Center activities on a regular basis are shown to have better emotional health. A Senior Center offers an escape from lonely homes, lonely lives and isolation.
Socialization is extremely important to happy senior living. Seniors who participate in center activities enjoy being around others their age, sharing stories and participating in community activities. Older individuals who would normally be isolated are offered the chance to maintain friendships and create new ones.
This is probably the most important of the unspoken Senior Center benefits. Senior Centers generally offer services from 8:00 in the morning to 4:00 in the afternoon. This means that if a senior wants to spend their day at the center, they could have lunch, beverages, participate in free health evaluations and other benefits that would normally be far outside of their monthly budget. Just one balanced meal per day and the chance to socialize with friends offers many aging adults benefits beyond measure.
Blair Senior Services’ Senior Centers are a treasure chest of not only a substantial daily meal, but a safe haven for companionship, health and wellness, plus numerous activities for the body and mind.
September is National Senior Center Month. Make a plan to visit your local senior center this month and see all the benefits you can discover.
For a list of monthly activities by individual centers, lunch menus and more information on all the services offered by Blair Senior Services, Inc., please visit their website at www.blairsenior.org or call 814-946-1235.