Advocacy

The Advocacy Committee represents GROWS on the Montgomery County Commission on Aging. The Committee also has representation at the Commission on Aging’s three working Committees: The Health and Wellness, Public Policy and Aging in Community Committees. The GROWS representatives communicate back to the GROWS Board and membership during monthly membership meetings and the most current information can be found here.

Summary of GROWS October 27 Advocacy Committee meeting

Summary of GROWS September 30 Advocacy Committee meeting

The Commission on Aging (CoA) advocates to make Montgomery County, Maryland a Community for a Lifetime recognizing that older adults are the fastest growing demographic in Montgomery County. 

The Commission on Aging (CoA): 

A) Advises the local government on the needs and interests of older adults and their caregivers
B) Interacts with residents, nonprofit partners, and the private sector on issues
affecting older adults
C) Supports policies that address the growing need for services for older adults of all ages, backgrounds, and ability levels
D) Identifies challenges and gaps in services and advocates for public investment to address them.

To learn more about the CoA, please visit their page here

Aging in Community:  The Committee’s May meeting was devoted to looking at the impact COVID19 has had on the older adult community. At that meeting Chief Brunetto (AAA, Director) addressed four issues: transportation, food insecurity, social isolation, and community living program services. The Committee has decided to focus on social isolation and what role the CoA can play in reaching isolated older adults. At their June meeting, Committee members decided to research ways to communicate to older adults what types of County resources are available to them. In addition, Committee members are looking at employment for older adults, affordable housing, and evictions.

Health and Wellness: The Committee has been looking at COVID responses and the incidents at different aging facilities. Committee members looked at the State’s “Go” and “Bridge” teams and discussed how the CoA can advocate to have the “Go” Teams continue after June 9. 

The Committee also met with Eileen Bennett, a program manager in the County’s Ombudsman Program.

The Hearing Loss Fact Sheet has been published and printed. The Committee has hard copies to distribute and they are available to pick up for any GROWS members wanted to leave copies at places where people are actually going in person currently. A link to the fact sheet is supplied here.

The Committee is moving forward with research and speakers on Social Isolation in combination with the AIC. AARP’s E.A. Casey will speak at the October meeting on AARP’s current research. She will discuss the Covid-19 Connectivity Paradox as well as the connect2affect project.

Public Policy: Committee members prepared two letters that were approved by the Executive Committee: a cover letter that expressed the CoA’s approval of a statement to legislators prepared by the N4A in favor of COVID19 legislation, and a letter to Montgomery County’s Office of Planning providing comments on the Thrive Montgomery initiative. A letter to the County Council is being drafted regarding how more attention and resources should be given to all levels of care caregivers for Covid-19 testing and making testing more available.

Voting is becoming an issue for nursing home residents; they need assistance when voting and there is confusion about how to apply for a  mail in ballot and when the ballot has to be returned. County Ombudsmen are instructed to reach out to the nursing home administrators and ask about the assistance that residents need. Some facilities are good, others not so good. It is going to be suggested that nursing home administrators enlist family members to help as much as possible. Perhaps the Department of Health and Human Services should also send a note to the facilities reminding them that voters will need more help this year. In addition, the County’s Board of Elections is reaching out to the nursing homes. The problem extends beyond nursing homes; any congregate living facilities (e.g., assisted living) will have residents who need help with the voting process.

Update: We have learned that the Board of Elections will deliver ballots, in a plastic pouch, to a representative at the participating facilities. Those representatives assist voters and return voted ballots to the BoE. The Outreach Coordinator is  Dr. Gilberto Zelaya at [email protected]"

Links:

N4A Letter to Congress

Letter with comments on the Thrive Montgomery initiative

Vision Zero Plan

Montgomery County’s Vision Zero kickoff meeting was held in June. Vision Zero is an extension of Complete Streets and its goal is to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030. That group would like CoA comments on its draft plan. Commissioners Wayne Berman, Eddie Rivas, and Dick Jourdenais volunteered to be on a Task Force to review the plan and develop comments. Commissioner Janice Zalen requested to join the Task Force.

AAA Director Updates

At the July 2020, CoA meeting, Chief Odile Brunetto (AAA) stated that because of the pandemic all County departments were asked for a 6 percent budget cut. However, the Department of Aging and Disability Services will only see a total reduction of $466,223. Budget cuts in the different departments within Aging and Disability Services were:

Respite Care has been cut $123,937. The Department, however, has seen respite care services decline because of COVID. Staff are hoping to get more money from the State Department of Aging to help replenish the budget and hopefully requests for respite care will increase to pre-COVID levels.

Adult Evaluation Review Services was cut $20,000. This is a service where nurses go into homes and provide health care. The position of one part-time nurse was eliminated.

The Escorted Transportation budget was cut $43,286. This is a service coordinated with the Jewish Council on Aging and provides transportation for individuals who cannot go to appointments on their own. The budget cut means less money for vendors who provide transportation. Staff have also seen a decline in requests for this service because of COVID.

The Home Care budget was cut by $120,000. Home care services have also declined because of COVID. That budget will be revisited in FY22.

The Assisted Living budget was cut by $159,000. This money is used for emergency placement.

Montgomery County Council Legislative Branch
To learn more about the County Council, to see who your representative is or for contact information please go to
https://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/COUNCIL/index.html