Ashe Services for Aging can help. With the implementation of a Community Resource Connection for Aging & Disabilities, Ashe residents – or visitors to the county – can find the help they need.
Actually in place since late last year, the county's program was officially kicked off in March at the senior center in West Jefferson. Through the High Country Community Resource Connections for Aging & Disabilities, Ashe joins other areas of the state in providing this vital network of resources. There are existing programs in Mt. Airy, Winston-Salem, Pittsboro and Greensboro, along with other newly launched programs in Charlotte, Concord, Waynesville and Raleigh, and programs under development in Asheville, Sylva and Greenville.
Community Resource Connections, or CRC, creates a coordinated system of information and access for all people seeking long term support and services, it minimizes confusion and enhances individual choices while supporting informed decision making. North Carolina's CRCs take the “no wrong door” approach to services, meaning consumers looking for answers can be directed to where they need to go no matter what agency they first approach. Whether they go to ASA or the Department of Social Services, or the hospital or a clinic, these agencies will be connected within the network to help people find the information they need.
According to the state's program information, “A CRC is one of the primary vehicles to modernize long term care systems, particularly by supporting individuals of all disabilities and incomes to make informed, cost-effective choices regarding the services they may need. This may reduce inappropriate or premature institutionalization.”
At the kick-off celebration, Ashe Services for Aging Executive Director Jane Banks said the network's main goals are information and assistance. “People don't know what's available in the community until they need services, and then they have to go out and find them,” she said. “We are already serving as a port for answering questions and helping connect people to services.”
Commission Chairwoman Judy Poe said the CRC is a valuable tool for Ashe County, and the commissioners are proud to help by funding the position of county volunteer coordinator who works out of the senior center. “Many people don't know about these services, so the CRC is a good thing to help inform people,” she said.
A special guest at the kick-off was Marian Hartman with the North Carolina CRC, NC Office of Long Term Services and Supports in Raleigh who used to live in Ashe County. She said the kick-off had been scheduled the past three months but got canceled each time due to snow.
“This is not something new, but a new way of doing something, doing things better, a more efficient finding of services,” Hartman said of the CRC network. “There is not a single way in, but every way you go you get in, making things flow better for those who need services and support.” Eventually, the network will be statewide, hopefully within the next five years, she said, so there would be access to services anywhere in the state.
In the High Country, information is also available through the High Country Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging. Alex Jernigan, ombudsman for regional long term care, said his agency already works with people in long term care and families to ensure the rights of the individuals.
Hartman added that whatever is available in a community becomes part of a CRC, which is funded through a federal initiative from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. It's a way to work smarter to better spread the resources to try and delay the need for long term care institutionalization, she said.
“I believe we will be self sustaining eventually,” Hartman said. “Our vision is developing a package that all CRCs will use with a client tracking tool, a database, so they all will be connected and instant. First, we are working on the confidentiality issue. The state has committed to the technology of making the system work.”
For more information, call Glenda Luther at 246-2461.