Community partnerships develop when individuals and organizations come together to work towards a common goal. This goal is usually beyond the mandate of any one of the participants individually and requires the partnership to be adequately addressed. With this in mind, each community partnership is unique and designed based around the needs of a specific community. Community partnerships exist throughout the nation between state and local governments, non-profit organizations, support service organizations, and agencies in the private sector. These partnerships tend to focus on the coordination of services such as housing assistance, transportation services, and general support service in a specific area. A distinct subset of these partnerships focuses solely on promoting aging in community and assisting with the unique demands for service of this population.
Community Partnerships for Older Adults
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has been a leader in community partnerships focused on aging populations for the past decade. RWJF created the Community Partnerships for Older Adults (CPFOA), an eight-year, $20 million dollar grant initiative to encourage community partnerships specifically benefiting older Americans. According to RWJF, the goal of this initiative is promote partnerships among local stakeholders to identify, prioritize, and implement local, community-based, solutions to many long-term care challenges that older adults face. The CPFOA communities have identified the following essential elements for a successful partnership:
- Direct involvement of older adults and non-traditional partners
- Community-developed and -supported strategic plan
- Partners commit resources to the strategic plan
- Shared leadership of the partnership and its work groups
- Neutral table to convene regular, open meetings
- Paid and/or dedicated staff to support the partnership
Delaware Senior Centers
In Delaware, the move toward the creation and development of more aging programs and partnerships in the community is part of an effort to correct a past over-reliance on more facility-based services, such as nursing homes. While it can cost over $70,000 to care for someone in a nursing home, while community-based programs that encourage aging in place cost about $15,000 a year.
Senior Centers, designated as community focal points through the Older Americans Act, are providing to provide vital to both the physical and mental health of senior citizens. Senior centers are places where older adults come together for services and activities that reflect their experience and skills, respond to their diverse needs and interests, enhance their dignity, support their independence, and encourage their involvement in and with the center and the community. Senior Center fitness, nutrition, social, and health and wellness programs/activities can prevent the onset of chronic diseases, illness, and depression.
Community Partnerships in Delaware
The State of Delaware has established a number of successful partnerships to foster aging in community. The Delaware Aging Network (DAN), a consortium of over 50 agencies across the state of Delaware, is committed to improving the quality of services older adults receive in the state. The emphasis of DAN is to help older adults live successfully in their own homes as they age with the help of community resources. DAN agencies and partners work with seniors to provide resources and case management services at local senior centers and other locations throughout the community. DAN agencies provide information about housing, health care, Medicare, Medicaid, in-home services, and transportation. Referrals are made to services to meet the personalized needs of each individual.
The Delaware Aging and Disability Resource Center, (ADRC) is a resource of the Division of Services for Aging and Adults with Physical Disabilities within the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services, is an access point for information and services for older persons and adults with physical disabilities. It publishes an online Guide to Services for Older Delawareans and Persons with Disabilities. Delaware’s Citizens Council on Aging, is a seven-member advisory board that is charged with developing and implementing all facets of aging-related policy.
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