Support counselors at local resource centers who help older and disabled New Jersey residents find community-based services will be getting a financial boost from the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
New Jersey’s Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) will receive about $118,300 at the end of September, part of $12.5 million awarded by HHS across the country.
The ADRC initiative is a nationwide effort to empower people to make informed decisions about their long-term services and support and help people more easily access services.
The idea is to provide a one-stop shop where people can get information on everything from where to get a wheelchair ramp built for their house, to a hot meal or medical daycare for an aging parent.
ADRC staff can be contacted by phone, in person or online. They provide residents with objective information on both publicly and privately funded services.
Two different types of grants were announced by HHS — Part A for states or territories receiving an initial ADRC grant for an enhanced ADRC options counseling program, and Part B for states and territories receiving continuation funding. New Jersey is a Part B recipient. Currently all 50 states and four territories are operating or are in the process of implementing an ADRC.
Kathy Greenlee, assistant secretary for aging at HHS, said that seniors and people with disabilities often find it difficult to navigate through the process of finding out what supports or services might be available to them.
“The grant awards are our continued investment in aging and disability resource centers as a one-stop place to call or contact to get the full range of information about what’s available in a community,” Greenlee said.
Lowell Arye, deputy commissioner at the NJ Department of Human Services, said the state’s grant will help create a curriculum to train ADRC counselors to assist people with disabilities, veterans, and New Jersey residents who are eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the mental health population.
“We started to look at what we can use this additional funding for and we realized that we really wanted to expand what we call our options counseling ability in the state,” said Ayre.
Options counseling means how to sit with an individual and counsel them about the options they have in front of them so they can make choices about what works in their own lives to help maintain their independence.
ADRCs began rolling out in New Jersey in 2003 and in May of this year every county in the state had an ADRC.
The additional training, said Ayre, who oversees the division on aging services, will provide counselors with a more “person-centered” approach as well as more knowledge and understanding of the services that are available. ADRC in New Jersey will be working with the Rutgers University School of Social Work on developing the curriculum.
Ayre said the grant comes at a crucial time as more baby boomers retire and will require more of these types of services. “We know that there will be a doubling of individuals age 85 or older in the next 10 years and a huge increase in seniors age 60-64,” Ayre said.
ADRCs are a collaborative effort spearheaded by the Administration on Community Living and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), both agencies of the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Veterans Health Administration, an agency of the Department of Veterans Affairs.