NEW YORK STATE –– In preparation for their Four-Year Plan, the New York State County Office for the Aging has initiated the state’s first-ever community assessment survey of older …
NEW YORK STATE –– In preparation for their Four-Year Plan, the New York State County Office for the Aging has initiated the state’s first-ever community assessment survey of older adults.
The survey, in partnership with the research firm Polco, is an important step for the office as they look to improve the livelihoods of older adults in the community. The survey results will also make a massive contribution to the state’s Master Plan for Aging (MPA).
The partnership with Polco was done by the Association on Aging in New York, and the thought process was for them to get a bigger snapshot of the entire state. During previous years, the Office for the Aging was tasked locally with the community needs survey and different counties had been approaching it differently. To be able to initiate a survey which has every county in-line with each other is a big step in making the proper improvements to the community for older adults.
“To get a statewide snapshot [in regards to] the [community] impact on everybody, is really important,” Lise-Anne Deoul, the director of the Sullivan County Office for the Aging, said. “To hear directly from the people that need these services is invaluable. So that’s kind of what we’re hoping to get from it, and to really facilitate our understanding of where we need to go in the next four years.”
In the first phase of the survey process based on a randomized sample, select households in Sullivan County were mailed a printed survey or a post card to fill out electronically. The survey asks a series of questions to anyone age 60 or older about their experiences in the community.
“[The survey] goes in depth and there are a lot of questions,” Deoul said. “But basically, the goal is to dive deep into people’s feelings about the overall quality of their community, [sense of belonging], accessibility of information, and productive activities in their communities -like civic engagement, volunteerism, and caregiving.”
Deoul was appointed the director of the Sullivan County Office for the Aging four years ago, after spending 18 years in the Rockland County Office for the Aging. She has seen a lot over the last four years, including going through the COVID-19 pandemic and how to respond to the concerns that senior citizens faced due to social isolation.
“What we’ve realized from [COVID] is the social isolation that seniors face when they don’t have access to things like our congregate meal sites, which we did have to close for a while,” Deoul said. “We’re actually very excited as we’ve been able to reopen two last month – our Mamakating and Livingston Manor sites – and we’re hopeful that we’re going to be able to reopen more sites soon.”
“We’ve been doing home delivery meals all along and expanded that exponentially during COVID for folks who couldn’t get out and [have] access to food,” Deoul continued. “Currently, our office is under construction, and we’ve still been able to manage serving clients in whatever way possible, whether it be meeting with them in other offices in the Government Center or going to their homes. It’s been over a month now that we’ve been closed, and we’re optimistic that by mid-April we’ll be back in our wonderful, new space.”
The COVID pandemic, of course, was a tough time for several businesses around the county and the globe. As Deoul put it, it was “a baptism by fire experience for everybody.”
Recently, the Office for the Aging made the survey available online for anyone age 60 or older. The survey can be found at https://polco.us/ny23op and is available to take until Friday, March 31.
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