HELP: Helping Elders Live in Place

Mission, Vision & Goals

The mission of Helping Elders Live in Place (HELP) is to work in the Rangeley Region to identify and advocate for the needs of elders, create a dialogue about aging, which empowers, maintains quality of life, cultivates community support, and allows elder residents to remain active in the community and live in their homes.

The broader mission of Rangeley Health and Wellness is to facilitate and advocate for Health and Wellness in the Rangeley Lakes Region.

Broad Overview

HELP - Helping Elders Live in Place, is a committee formed in the winter of 2012 to explore how to help seniors in the Rangeley area live in their homes for as long as possible and remain an active part of the community. We have an active and eager volunteer staff who are committed to providing exceptional services to our senior population. Our initiatives have brightened the lives of so many in this rural area, keeping our seniors active, happy and healthy.

How is your age-friendly initiative structured?

HELP works under and in accordance with the by-laws of RHW. The HELP group has a committee chair and meetings are held once a month in accordance with Robert’s Rules. Each program of the HELP committee has a designated sub-chair that reports to the group as a whole. RHW board members are a part of the HELP group and the Executive Director of RHW attends meetings to oversee the group and advise on all decisions.

Describe any partnerships you have developed?

Rangeley Health and Wellness (RHW) Helping Elders Live in Place (HELP) is a committee formed in the winter of 2012 to explore how to help seniors in the Rangeley area live in their homes for as long as possible and remain an active part of the community. We asked the essential question, “What agency support or programs would seniors need so they can continue to live at home?” Initially the group was organized as a result of a Thriving in Place planning grant from Mehaf through Seniors Plus. Rangeley Health and Wellness (RHW) was one of eight partners in this planning grant and HELP was formed as the local community action group in Rangeley.

When the planning phase ended the HELP committee transitioned to the Rangeley Health and Wellness (RHW) umbrella and continues to receive their generous support.

In the spring of 2014 RHW organized a Community Visioning Event to ascertain what services the community lacked and desired. This event brought over 85 residents together and we found that a senior center and senior services were high on the priority list. HELP is working to fulfill those vital services in this community. The 2nd annual Senior EXPO 2015 was hosted by HELP at the Rangeley Inn and showcased agencies that support seniors in Franklin county, as well as, programs on topics relevant to seniors. HELP had various representatives from Franklin County attending including, Health Reach, Healthy Community Coalition Mobile Health Unit, Androscoggin Home Health, Western Maine Transportation, Seniors Plus, Rangeley Health and Wellness, Ascent Rangeley Lakes Rehab just to name a few. We ran 6 seminars during the day and topics included elder abuse, fitness for seniors, making your home safe and scams targeting the elderly.

What is the role of volunteers?

Rangelely Health and Wellness (RHW) and the HELP group have an active volunteer force and continually recruit new folks who are interested in helping seniors. We also regularly invite the town officials to our monthly meetings, and we attend selectman meetings to let them know of any new programs or changes to existing ones.

Our volunteers do everything from making soups, to organizing work committees, to stuffing envelopes. The key is to find what a volunteer does best, where their interests lie and how to best make use of the amazing array of talent they have. Enlisting seniors themselves as volunteers has helped to grow our programs immeasurably and has given them a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

All volunteers have a background check. RHW provides CPR training for those that are interested. RHW Committee chairs or paid staff of RHW supervise these volunteers and set their schedules.

Strategies that have contributed to your success? Barriers you have encountered?

We have branded our programs with logos that appear in poster format around area post offices, town offices, Rangeley Family Practice and on sandwich boards. We have also created postcards for each program with the logo on the front and program information on the back, and freely hand these out at events specifically organized for seniors.

HELP has been successful in getting ‘human-interest’ stories in the local papers that showcase the benefits to people who have participated in our programs.

Representatives from the HELP committee visited their town's selectmen's meetings to inform them regarding the various HELP programs.

These strategies will build visibility and trust in what HELP has to offer over time.

We began by asking the community what it wanted by sponsoring a Visioning Event. Subsequently HELP has developed questionnaires and event evaluations to collect feedback. At this stage getting additional community input will be valuable. HELP has expanded its committee membership to include selectmen so we can coordinate with the community’s overall vision for seniors. Diverse membership on the HELP community action team is vital to having the appropriate perspective for seniors.

We have partnered with as many organizations and existing services as possible. For example, the Rangeley Meal Site (Meals-on-Wheels) survives but does not thrive, and would be damaged further if WSS offered free hot lunches to seniors on days they are also attempting to serve meals at cost. WSS partnered with the Meal Site to purchase the soups and breads we offer at WSS and are purchasing meals for participants in the HARC program. This way both programs benefit.

Seniors in rural Maine are proud, independent and often think they do not need help of any kind. Understanding these barriers and building trust is a key. One way HELP has begun to do this is by using local volunteers and organizations familiar and respected in the community (churches, Rotary, and schools) to become directly involved with HELP.

Licensing for HARC has been a long and tedious process and our success was predicated on including health professionals in the community who wanted to volunteer to be part of the process. Dividing up the workload among people with expertise enabled the completion of the application in three months.

HELP cannot underestimate the importance of our partnership with RHW. Without RHW’s organizational (501(C) 3) and financial support, HELP could not have undertaken such a complex project. RHW has targeted seniors as a priority for their organization and has given direction to our work. To replicate our efforts in other communities it will be critical to have a designated organization with the influence, staff, and budget to support this type of community initiative.

Sustainability over time will be our biggest challenge. Seeking donations, hosting targeted fund-raisers and pursuing additional grant funding will remain options for consideration. Although fee for service is an appealing pathway, we need to consider the economic realities for the people in the Rangeley region whom we are dedicated to serve. As HELP moves forward with HARC we will need to evaluate to what degree fees collected cover expenses of the program. HELP will be open to explore all options and look to successful state and national programs for guidance.

Types of funding that your initiative has received

Municipality, Grants, Membership Fees, Fundraising, Other Donations

Community Initiatives

Transportation

HELP has an informal structure at this point. Volunteers will provide rides to seniors when needed for local events. Transportation is something that is a major issue for all rural communities and is on the forefront on agenda items for the HELP group.

Chores, Handyman & Upkeep

HELP works on an inter-generational level pairing students from the Rangeley Interact Club with seniors needing assistance in the way of light chores for seniors. The Interact club also helps at our Fall Senior Expo and at the Winter Senior Socials.

Health & Wellness

Rangeley Health and Wellness programs for seniors include free Exercise programs, Functional Fitness at the RHW Wellness Pavilion and at the Senior Housing in town. We also provide free flu shots for 250 residents, most of which are seniors.

Durable Medical Equipment: We do have some equipment available but not an organized program Increase access to health and community services: We work with all partners including Rangeley Family Medicine (HealthReach Community Health Centers), Rangeley Town, Rangeley Rotary, Rangeley Meal Site, and all partners from Franklin County involved in the Thriving in Place Initiative.

HELP Neighbors Calling Neighbors
Neighbors Calling Neighbors provides a daily phone call to seniors who appreciate a daily check-in and contact with a caring person. Our HELP volunteer callers have received training in listening skills and are able to make connections for additional help when it is appropriate providing important links for these isolated individuals. Volunteer callers have paired students from the high school Interact Club (Rotary) with seniors needing chores done such as bringing the wood in or weeding the garden. This relationship is very rewarding and beneficial to both young and old alike.

Outreach & Resource Information

HELP is located on the RHW website with links to all area resources and contacts for elders as well as opportunities for socialization and volunteerism.

Social, Educational & Recreational

HELP organizes the Winter Senior Social Program during the months of January, February and March. This program is held every Thursday from 10am-2pm at the undercroft of the Church of the Good Shepard. These winter months can be a time of isolation for those seniors living alone and we feel this service helps to alleviate that isolation. This is a time filled with conversation, games, cards, puzzles, adult education programs, and a noon meal. The Food Pantry is also open that day in the same location and can provide some extra necessities for seniors. RHW is providing this program with generous support from the Rangeley Rotary. We sent out a questionnaire to area churches as well as distribution at the Senior Expo, Thanksgiving Dinner and Senior Rotary Christmas Dinner to spread the word to our senior population and get their input. RHW and HELP are partnering with the Rangeley Rotary in funding this program. We had an average of 35 seniors attending these socials each week!

Our low intensity strength and balancing class is offered year round at the Rangeley Fitness Center. These free classes provide active instruction for both the senior population and those in the rehab program. The classes are held at the Rangeley Fitness Center and at the Senior Town Houses

Food, Gardening & Cooking

Rangeley Health and Wellness and HELP address food security and have an active food pantry in the community. We worked with the food pantry to open when we had our Winter Senior Social to increase the access of this service.

Family, Caregiving Support & Respite

The HELP Adult Respite Care Program was developed and opened its doors February of 2016.
This program provides needed aid for caregivers by creating a safe place where cognitively challenged seniors can participate in activities designed specifically to enrich their daily lives. We provide a supportive day program base on the Brookdale Models focusing on participant’s capabilities, experience, interests and personalities so that his/her potential is maximized. The program runs one day each week from 11-3 throughout the year in the lower level of the Rangeley Family Medicine Facility. Prior to opening RHW had to complete licensure with the state and did have some capital expenditures in order to meet the code and space requirements. RHW hired and trained a Personal Service Specialist to work with clients. We are able to expand to additional days should the need arise. HELP provides a volunteer base to work with the PSS and a noon meal for the clients is provided by and purchase through the Rangeley Meal Site. All volunteers are trained in Alzheimer’s and Early Dementia, CPR, active listening and fire safety.

Communication

We have posters around town in area post offices, town offices, Rangeley Family Practice and on sandwich boards. We have also created postcards for each program with the logo on the front and program information on the back, and freely hand these out at events specifically organized for seniors. HELP produces many press releases has been successful in getting ‘human-interest’ stories in the local papers that showcase the benefits to people who have participated in our programs. Representatives from the HELP committee visited their town's selectmen's meetings to inform them regarding the various HELP programs. We have an annual Senior Expo showcasing Senior Programs and area agencies that are of interest to seniors. We send out mailings to our seniors and enlist as many community organizations to collaborate and participate in our programs.

We do team up our local Interact Club (High school Rotary) with seniors that may need light chores done, such as weeding the garden, bringing in the wood, and this has proven to be beneficial for both young and old alike.

Region

Contact

Jeanne Thorvaldsen
Executive Director
Rangeley Health and Wellness
25 Dallas hill Road, Rangeley, Maine 04970
jeanne@rangeleyhealthandwellness.com
Telephone: 207-864-4397 x 4