Susan Lanspery, Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. Photo Courtesy of Mark Lovewell, Vineyard Gazette.
Healthy Aging Survey and Community Meeting
More than 80 people attended our third annual community meeting at the MV Hebrew Center on Monday, December 7th. They came to hear Susan Lanspery of the Heller School at Brandeis University report findings from the HAMV 50-question survey, which had been mailed to over 4,760 Island seniors. Astonishingly, the final response rate from all over the Island was 49% response rate - an unheard of figure in the world of surveys. Such a response rate is reflective of how devoted Vineyard residents are to this Island, and of the community's commitment to finding solutions and new models to meet the needs of our rapidly aging Island population.
The survey provided insights into the hopes, lives, struggles and concerns of different aspects of our Vineyard society: 85+, low-income, living alone, and limited mobility, to name a few. Questions covered healthcare, housing, transportation, health & wellness, employment, community engagement, use of elder care services, Town infrastructure, physical access, finances and resources. The questions were not unusual, but the responses - taken as a whole - show a snapshot of what our elders see as their biggest needs and desires.
Overall, the vast majority of Vineyard seniors see their health as good to excellent, want to continue to live on the Island, and want to live independently on Island as they age. However, a significant number of respondents fall into what HAMV identifies as the most vulnerable - living alone, being over 85 (when chronic problems of aging particularly take their toll), having very low incomes, and experiencing limited mobility. When these factors are considered together, they are likely to define future priorities.
However, at this point, Brandeis is digging down beyond their initial analysis to further analyze the survey responses, and HAMV looks forward to their final report sometime in early January. At that point, the HAMV Oversight Committee will review the report and develop priorities for 2016 and future years.
A big thank you to our two Island newspapers for covering our event:
Where would HAMV be without our strong
HAMV is now a coalition of over 75 volunteers, representing 37 non-profit and municipal organizations from all six towns, who are working to make the Vineyard an Aging-Friendly Community. Major activities have been undertaken through our working groups or special project ad hoc committees.
During the past year, this network of volunteers initiated programs to reduce the rate of falls among island seniors (Matter of Balance), hosted a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS) workshop to train professionals in the multiple aspects concerning home modifications for an aging population, improved self-care among the Island's many caregivers (Powerful Tools for Caregivers), and designed and developed an Island-wide information and resource web-site with Town support for its staffing (FirstStop).
They have raised funds to strengthen the four Island Councils on Aging through improved outreach and record-keeping hardware and software (MySeniorCenter), initiated an island-wide collaborative planning process through our Results Based Accountability (RBA) process, and began a feasibility study to explore the possibility of initiating alternative models for assisted living and/or nursing homes (Green House Model) on the Island.
We are grateful to each and every person who has worked with us on any of these initiatives and look forward to continuing with you in the future.
Single Service Point for Island Seniors is Launched!
Congratulations to Healthy Aging's FirstStop Working Group - co-chairs Bea Phear and Rise Terney, committee members Jacque Cage, Dianne Durawa, Julie Fay, Armen Hanjian, Tristan Israel, Diane Jetmund, Patsy McCornack, Peter Meleney, Paul Mohair, Paddy Moore, and Joyce Stiles-Tucker!
Our gratitude to the Town Meeting members for approving funds to support this information and resource service during FY 2016.
On Monday, December 7th, the product of two years of their research and development opened online - FirstStop.org, a website and staffed-phone service designed to be a single entry point for Island seniors, their on-and off-Island family, caregivers, and service providers to the many diverse resources available - local, state, and national.
For several years, the annual Rural Scholars' reports strongly recommended that the island needed a comprehensive, centralized, single-source information, resource and referral program. One that was based on a website, but also supplemented with helpful staff to answer questions and assist in navigation. Following the Rural Scholars' presentation to the Healthy Aging Task Force (HATF) in November 2013, the HATF formed an information and resource working group to bring those recommendations into reality.
The newly formed working group met a number of times to establish policies for the program, deciding what should be included, what to exclude, and how the information should be presented. They worked closely with Deborah Mayhew on website usability and accessibility and contracted with Forsythe Design, working with graphic designer Kathleen Forsythe and web developer Heather Goff to build the website. They researched many information and resource programs across the country. They also worked closely with dozens of Island providers/agencies and individuals to collect detailed information about services, and then with the new program manager, Karin Kugel, worked to refine service descriptions to make them as user friendly as possible.
Thanks to the FirstStop working group and all its partners,
is now online with over 200 providers and resources and still growing. A special thank you to Kathleen Forsythe and Heather Goff for making our website a reality, and to Deborah Mayhew for contributing to our understanding of web design and accessibility issues. As Healthy Aging MV (HAMV) Executive Coordinator Tom Hallahan mentioned during his presentation of FirstStop at the HAMV Community Meeting, the website will be a "living document" to be continuously refined, developed, and strengthened.
The new program will be announced across the Island beginning in January, and marketing outreach will continue throughout the winter and spring, as we learn from our users, and as new services and resources are added at the local, state, and national levels. Visit the
A Well Deserved Tribute for
HAMV was honored to take the opportunity at our third annual meeting to acknowledge Jacque Cage and her many contributions to us and the island as a whole.
Born in Queens and growing up on Long Island, Jacque Cage knew early on she wanted to help people. She earned a degree in social welfare from Arizona State and eventually made her way to the Island in 1974, with husband and family in tow. By 1977 she was hired as the coordinator for the Tisbury Council on Aging, serving in this position until 1979 when she was named Director of Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands; 36 years later -
a position she continues to grace today, bringing Meals-on-Wheels, Fragile Elders programs and other needed services to Island seniors.
During this time, Jacque has been a steady presence in our community, helping to develop programs and services to meet the needs of Islanders as we age. These include Hospice, Vineyard Transit Authority, and the four Island Councils on Aging. She currently serves on the Board of the Dukes County Health Council and HAMV's Oversight Committee. Jacque has worked with the Island's nursing agencies, MV Hospital, and Windemere. She has participated along with many of us in the healthy aging initiative, having volunteered, as she always does, from the very beginning. Above all, if someone asks Jacque for her help or advice, or to attend a meeting, she is always willing. In her own words: "How does it work and how can we make it work better?" To learn more about the Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands,
Thank You to Our Many
Supporters and Partners
HAMV is so grateful for our partners for the work that they did for Island elders over the past year. Their initiatives include the Memory Café, the Dementia Support Group, the MV Center for
Living's collaboration with Dukes County to expand their Supportive Day Program, and the four Island Councils on Aging adoption of the MySeniorCenter approach.
HAMV is also grateful for our partners' collaboration in Powerful Tools for Caregivers, Matter of Balance, FirstStop, Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist, Senior Advocates, and much more.
Our partners include:
All Six Island Towns
Councils on Aging: Edgartown, Oak Bluffs,Tisbury, and Up-Island
Dukes County Associate Commissioner for Disability Services
Dukes County Commissioners and County Manager
Dukes County Health Council
Dukes County Regional Housing Authority
Dukes County Veterans Agent
Elder Services of Cape Cod and the Islands
Featherstone Center for the Arts
Hope Health and Hope Hospice
Hospice of Martha's Vineyard
Island Elderly Housing
Island Food Pantry
Island Housing Trust
Martha's Vineyard Center for Living
Martha's Vineyard Community Services
Martha's Vineyard Commission
Martha's Vineyard Donors Collaborative
Martha's Vineyard Hospital
Martha's Vineyard Regional Transit Authority
Vineyard Health Care Access
Vineyard Committee on Hunger
Vineyard Village at Home
Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah)
Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center