Year in Review Report Highlights Cost Savings, Expansion of Services, Renewed Commitment to Education, Advocacy
ERIE COUNTY, NY— Erie County Senior Services Commissioner Randy Hoak today released a “2013 Year in Review” report detailing departmental successes in 2013 and outlining ways to build on those successes in 2014. Notable among the achievements of 2013 is a departmental restructuring that resulted in cost savings of over $250,000, and a revitalization of the Erie County Elderly Nutrition Services (“ECENS”) Program that resulted in both expanded offerings of home-delivered meals and a reduction in costs for the Stay Fit senior lunch program.
“I commend Commissioner Hoak and his staff for the flexibility, proactivity, and creativity they have shown in shaping the Department of Senior Services into a unit that is responsive to the needs of seniors and recognizes the need for partnerships to effectively provide services,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. “With our senior aged population growing, there is an always-increasing demand for those services and a shrinking pool of funding available to provide them. Therefore, it is essential that we search out more effective ways of doing things while keeping costs in line. The Senior Services department is doing that through critical collaborations for provision of these vital services, increased education, and advocacy on senior issues.”
The departmental restructuring that took place in 2013 streamlined the Senior Services Department from five “teams” (Information & Referral, Nutrition, Program Development & Evaluation, Fiscal, Contracts) into two “divisions” (Administration and Services) to more efficiently provide services and encourage greater collaboration among staff. This reorganization eliminated four positions resulting in payroll reductions of over $250,000. In conjunction with the restructuring, the Department strengthened a number of programs, including its nutrition program, lowering the suggested contribution of Stay Fit senior lunches from $3.50 to $3.00, and agreeing to first-ever contracts with two Meals on Wheels agencies to provide home-delivered meals to home-bound seniors in the Northtowns.
Erie County Senior Services Commissioner Randy Hoak added, “Last year was a year of collaboration for the Senior Services Department. We were able to reach out to new partners, fortify existing relationships, and listen to the concerns of seniors in Erie County. Our success in 2013 can be attributed to the support of our partners in the community and the enthusiasm of our staff to employ creativity in meeting the needs of those we serve.”
Another departmental program seeing improvements in 2013 was senior transportation, which leveraged available Federal Transit Administration funding to purchase six replacement vehicles for the “Going Places” fleet, which provides low-cost transportation to seniors around Erie County for medical appointments, shopping, or other errands that they are unable to get to otherwise. The Department also continues to aggressively pursue Health Promotion programs such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, Diabetes Self-Management Program, and Matter of Balance, all of which help individuals manage their chronic conditions and employ healthy practices. Other positives from 2013 include enhanced case management and expanded educational offerings at senior centers.
The departmental focus in 2014 will build on the successes of the past year while strengthening the scope and quality of the programs offered on a daily basis. Continued and varied outreach to target populations, advocacy on the needs of seniors, and expertise sharing from departmental staff to partner agencies will all serve to augment current programming and build capacity for the future.