Behavioral Health Programs Must Work Together to Serve Seniors in Need
AKRON, Ohio – The Blick Center, a non-profit agency offering a continuum of high-quality services that educate, strengthen and support children, adolescents, adults, and their families, announces a strategic partnership with VANTAGE Aging, a social service agency serving older adults. This partnership unites two organizations with a mutual goal of supporting the behavioral health of our community.
The agencies recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will allow The Blick Center to transition and carry out behavioral health services to older adults within the VANTAGE Aging place of business on Romig Road in Akron, effective March 1, 2020.
According to the October 2019 report by the Center for Community Solutions, “the number of older adults (in Ohio) in need of mental health services has increased. Nearly 7 percent of older adults report experiencing frequent mental distress, with females more likely to report distress than males.” The same article reports that mental health and addiction disorders are more common than diabetes or heart disease, and they are just as treatable.
Providing behavioral health services for older adults requires a deep understanding of the intricacies related to aging. This includes knowledge of chronic disease management, polypharmacy, nutrition, and social isolation. VANTAGE Aging’s Behavioral Health Solutions program has been providing services to older adults for over 40 years, but multiple challenges inherent in running such a specialized program resulted in them reaching out to The Blick Center to identify collaboration opportunities.
According to Karin Lopper-Orr, Executive Director at The Blick Center, this partnership is a win-win for both agencies. “VANTAGE has decades of experience in the treatment of older adults, including a very successful Intensive Outpatient Treatment Program (IOP). This relationship will allow Blick to expand its services, intensifying the positive impact in the lives of those we serve,” said Lopper-Orr. “By continuing operations within VANTAGE, existing clients will receive more case management and experience a seamless transition. We have plans to maintain the current staff so that the connection between staff and client services remain consistent.”
Collaborations necessary to address funding shortfalls
Ted Watko, CEO of VANTAGE Aging, believes this partnership will heighten the visibility of the needs of seniors and their families in Summit County that depend on social service providers like The Blick Center and VANTAGE Aging for help. “The lack of funding for behavioral health and especially for seniors means we need to seek creative solutions to become more efficient and effective. We have to ensure that our aging population and their caregivers have the help they need to successfully age-in-place,” said Watko. “It makes financial sense for sustainability reasons for some nonprofit to partner with similar organizations.” VANTAGE Aging will continue to offer their various wrap-around programs, including paid job-training for adults 55 and older through the Senior Community Service Employment Program, Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio, Home Wellness Solutions, Encore Staffing Network and RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) of Summit and Medina Counties.
“Following the success of the strategic partnership resulting in a merger to form Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio earlier this year, VANTAGE Aging will continue to seek collaborative opportunities to leverage our strengths and financial resources so we can direct more funding to supporting seniors,” said Watko. “We are proud of our efforts to evolve in an ever-changing environment of challenges and opportunities.”
About VANTAGE Aging: VANTAGE Aging provides high-quality programs to empower the economic, social, physical, and mental well-being of adults as they age. Non-medical in-home care is provided by Home Wellness Solutions. Behavioral Health Solutions offers mental health counseling and treatment for alcohol and other drug use issues to adults age 45 and older. Job training for low-income adults age 55 and older is offered through the Senior Community Service Employment Program. Evidenced-based volunteering to meet local and national needs is provided by RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteers. Meals on Wheels of Northeast Ohio provides home-delivered and congregate meals to provide nutritional support to the homebound and disabled. Overall, VANTAGE’s programs come together to offer a path for positive aging. Founded in 1975 as a senior citizen program, VANTAGE has since become an independent, nationally respected organization with offices throughout the state. For more information, call 330.253.4597 or visit www.vantageaging.org.
Senior Director of Community Engagement
330-253-4597 ext. 160