By Ronald S. Taylor, President & CEO, Detroit Area Agency on Aging …
Before coming to Detroit 19 months ago, my work in the aging network centered on eight southeast states where I gained experience responding to natural disasters ranging from hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms, floods and even earthquakes.
None of those disasters compare to the current pandemic we are facing with COVID-19. Yet, one common theme in the response and recovery for each of these disasters, including COVID-19, has been the compassionate and coordinated responses provided to meet the local needs of individuals and communities. Services cannot stop.
I joined the Detroit Area Agency on Aging (DAAA) when CEO Paul Bridgewater retired after 38 years. During this period of time, the agency became well known for its Meals on Wheels program, emphasis on evidence-based programs, and publishing the groundbreaking study entitled, “Dying Before Their Time.”
This report connected the premature deaths of Detroit’s African American population and other people of color to chronic health conditions and the economic and social conditions that impact health. Given the disproportionate number of deaths among African Americans from COVID-19, attention focuses again on the health care injustices and disparities that have prevailed in the U.S. since the days of segregated hospitals.
Next month, DAAA will release Dying Before Their Time III – another wake-up call for our community. With more advocacy, information, resources and access to health care, all people age 60 and over can live longer, healthier lives.
Within DAAA, and because of COVID-19, our 40-years of delivering a robust mixture of services and programs has been somewhat altered. This has occurred to protect the safety of our constituents and team members. Yet, we and our partners in the aging network, have stepped up to address the immediate issues and concerns of our community.
This has been done by improving some of our processes, enhancing our technological capabilities, promoting collaboration with community stakeholders and most importantly, by remembering that our responses must be done with a spirit of care, compassion and servitude. With many best practices rapidly being reconsidered and revised, the DAAA Team is reimagining a “new normal” and redefining its work.
• We are building new collaborations with community partners.
• We are positioned to serve our population of seniors and adults with disabilities who need us more than ever before.
• When others want to be part of the solution, we want to make it happen.
Together, we are cultivating a strong base of servant leaders. We are your Senior Solution!
A Lifeline: Home-Delivered Meals
Meals continue to be delivered to more than 3,000 people. For safety reasons, a once-weekly box of frozen meals replaces daily hot meals, while still meeting nutritional guidelines.
Teamwork & Technology Upgrades Support Working from Home
Software and hardware upgrades were made to enhance our ability to work remotely and efficiently, and now 95% of our employees are equipped to work from home. Calls to the office are answered in real time, and Zoom conferences connect over 120 team members.
The People We Serve Are Our Family
Hundreds of calls from nutrition assessors, nurses and social workers keep us connected to those we serve. Additional employees make wellness checks daily, with special attention to those who live alone and are at greater risk.
More Meals with New Partnerships, Private Donations
In addition to 3,000 participants in DAAA’s meal programs, 4,500 additional individuals have received either frozen meals, shelf-stable food supplies, or Quarantine boxes, all possible with private donations, disaster funding, and Gleaner’s Food Bank.
Curbside Pick-Ups for More Service
Senior centers, City of Detroit recreation centers and places of worship expand DAAA’s reach in providing meals quickly and safely during the COVID-19 crisis.
Content brought to you by the Detroit Area Agency on Aging. For more information, visit detroitseniorsolution.org. For assistance by phone, call 313-446-4444.