BCCOA releases annual report
The Barry County Council on Aging (BCCOA) has released its annual report on services provided to elderly Barry Countians for the 2011 fiscal year, noting that the number of clients needing personal care assistance has doubled due to cuts in the state's Medicaid program in 2010-11.
Over 3,500 hours of personal care services were provided to area seniors needing help in carrying out two or more basic daily activities in their homes for the past year. All personal care services were contracted out because of the specialized skills or equipment needed to perform the services.
The primary purpose of the BCCOA is to help senior citizens live independently in their homes for as long as practical. Each month, BCCOA serves over 200 senior citizens through a variety of programs, including personal care. Other programs administered by the BCCOA include homemaking services, respite care, home medical alert, reimbursement of meal drivers and Good Neighbor transportation.
The largest group of clients served are those who need assistance with basic homemaking chores, which might include laundry and general housecleaning.
Over 6,800 hours of homemaking services were provided to Barry County clients last year. The county council employs nine part-time workers to provide these in-home services and one supervisor to oversee the day-to-day operations of all programs.
Respite care is offered to caregivers who need assistance or a short reprieve from their responsibilities. BCCOA provided over 2,500 hours of respite care services to seniors needing such help last year. Often, respite services are combined with homemaking services. The number of clients receiving respite care is limited by the staff and funding available to provide the service.
The BCCOA also provides and supports a medical alert program. There are currently 40 medical alert units installed in client homes in Barry County.
"Often, the client would not be able to afford this life-saving device without this program," said Ron Shook, treasurer for BCCOA. "Each year, there are numerous times when emergency responders are contacted and dispatched because of an emergency occurring in a senior's home."
The county council also assists seniors in finding their own medical alert provider when the council has no units available for installation.
Last year, a total of 54,700 meals were delivered in Barry County from three senior centers in Cassville, Monett and Shell Knob. Volunteer drivers tallied up nearly 53,200 miles delivering meals to seniors. Volunteer drivers donated 9,330 miles back to the home-delivered meals program, equivalent to nearly $4,000 in donations, according to Shook.
"There is a persistent need for volunteer meal drivers at all three senior centers," Shook said. "The Southwest Missouri Office on Aging (SWMOA) provides the food items and staff to prepare the home-delivered meals in each of the centers."
The Good Neighbor transportation program, coordinated by the BCCOA, continued operations last year, assisting seniors with transportation when medical or other special transportation needs arose. Volunteer drivers logged 4,105 miles, taking clients to a specialist or the Veterans Administration facilities outside the county.
In recent years, the Senior Citizens' Services Tax Board has provided funding for expanded OATS bus service in the county. Seniors needing local transportation are encouraged to use the OATS bus whenever possible.
The county council plans to continue offering all of these services to area seniors throughout the 2011-12 fiscal year. The Senior Citizens' Services Tax Board appropriated $155,300 from its 2011 tax receipts to the Barry County Council on Aging to fund these programs.
During the past year, the county council received $21,643 in contributions from clients that went to help sustain the programs being provided to seniors in Barry County.
The county council is under contract with SWMOA to provide some of the services, such as the home-delivered meal driver reimbursements, homemaker services and Good Neighbor transportation during the 2011-12 fiscal year.
The Barry County Council on Aging is governed by volunteer board members who are elected from throughout the county. Current board members include: Sharon Madison, president; Barbara Howell, vice president; Shook, treasurer; Linda Pelzel, secretary; and Marilyn Shepherd, Les Hinton, Thelma Hinton, Nadine Smith and Sue Beck, board members.
Seniors needing assistance may call their area senior center administrator. In Cassville, the number to call is 847-4510, in Monett, call 235-3285 and in Shell Knob, call 858-6952. Calls may also be made to the BCCOA at 847-2229.