Do you ever drive around town and see a sign for a business or something else and ask yourself, “I wonder what they do there?” Some businesses are pretty obvious, Bedford Florist, Express Pizza – got it. Middlesex Savings Bank, got it. But what about some of the others?
Our mission is to answer the question, What Do They Do There Anyway?
Next up: Minuteman Senior Services ~ 26 Crosby Drive ~ www.minutemansenior.org
I sat down with their executive director Kelly Magee Wright, and Patti Dubielak, their director of marketing and development, to ask that very question.
They do indeed work with seniors, but what they do is multi-faceted and not easy to summarize. Their slogan is: “Know Us Before You Need Us” is really good advice. They offer so many different services to help seniors, caregivers, and disabled individuals that it really is hard to grasp all that they offer. Magee Wright said “If you’re a senior or a caregiver with an issue, just call us – don’t try to figure out what’s available, let us help. We have so many resources it’s best to ask us what problem you’re trying to solve, and let us help find a solution.”
Situations that they encounter in which they can help, (a small sampling). Care Management, Home Care, Senior Nutrition (Meals on Wheels), Housing Options, Respite Care, Dementia Care Services, Medicare Health Insurance Counseling, Transportation, Caregiver Support Resources-the list goes on and on. It’s amazing what is available for help. They work closely with the Bedford Council on Aging and the other COAs in the towns they serve.
Minuteman Senior Services started in 1975. Their original charter came from the Older American Act (OAA) in 1965. They are one of 670 Area Agencies on Aging in the country and 1 of 25 Aging Services Access Points here in Massachusetts. They cover the towns below with their headquarters in Bedford.
They have over 130 employees with many more volunteers.
Their funding comes from three main sources: State, Federal, and private funding. The state is responsible for 68 percent of its budget for programs such as Case Management, Protective Services, and Money Management. Federal resources account for 5 percent of their annual budget, and support programs like “Meals on Wheels”, which they operate in their service areas. Other sources of funding come from managed care entities, grants, and individual and corporate donations.
There are a lot of services available to seniors often with some kind of funding available. They know what’s available and how to get the help.
Like everything else, the Covid-19 pandemic had a huge impact on how Minuteman Senior Services operates. Dubielak said, “We had to pivot quickly during the pandemic, relying on our Continuity of Operations Plan which is thankfully updated regularly.” One of the biggest challenges during the pandemic was finding new volunteers for the Meals on Wheels program and adapting how they operated. Many Volunteers were scared for their own safety and opted to stay safe at home. The Meals on Wheels program is often the only contact many isolated seniors have with other people. Before the pandemic, drivers would come into people’s houses to drop off the meal, to check in, and briefly chat. With the pandemic, they quickly had to pivot as those meal deliveries are a key resource. Magee Wright said, “The drivers are really the frontline to help isolated seniors.” The interaction of the meal drop also serves as a wellness check. “They have eyes on the seniors and they can spot problems early.”
The fact that the drivers are on the frontline led Minuteman to create an app for their drivers. Magee Wright says they worked with a programmer to create a reporting function so drivers could quickly and consistently report what they found. Before, if the driver noted that the person seemed disheveled or the house was in disarray, there was a procedure on how to report it but it was not as efficient. “This new program allows them to give a quick assessment. They notice little things that might not be significant on their own, but taken as part of a whole picture can be a great benefit to identify issues before they get too serious.” This reporting function after each visit really helps paint a picture of what is going on. They have been working at this for many years, but only recently implemented this across all meal sites given the focus on pandemic response.
Getting to “Know Us Before You Need Us” is going to be a little easier.
To provide more information to the community, Minuteman Senior Services is giving a virtual seminar through the Bedford COA on March 23.
Minuteman Senior Services – Know Us Before You Need Us!
Wednesday, March 23 at 2 PM via Zoom
Please join representatives of Minuteman Senior Services on a Zoom meeting to learn about what services are available to you! Program offers include information and supportive services, up-to-date resource information and referrals to community services, care management and in-home care, Meals on Wheels and congregate dining, elder protective services, assistance with budgeting and bill-paying, Medicare benefits counseling, caregiver support and much more. Many services are free of charge, others are available on a sliding fee or private pay basis. Additional info on www.minutemansenior.org Please contact the COA to sign up and receive the link to attend the program.
They also have their annual Spring Forward Fun Run & Walk event coming in May More Info here: Spring Forward Fun Run & Walk May 1 – May 8
So that’s what they do. Let us know if there are other companies you’re curious about!