Stretching limited funds

Published 12:35 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Aging IW population increases demands

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

With a growing senior population, but not a corresponding increase in state and federal funding, the Isle of Wight Board of Supervisors unanimously approved $25,000 for Isle of Wight Social Services’ adult care program.

Isle of Wight Social Services Director Pam Barton made the request at the August Board meeting.

Currently, there are 25 people on the companion services waiting list, Barton said.

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Companion services allow seniors or the disabled to remain in their homes by providing light housekeeping, errands and some personal care duties.

Typically, there are less than 20 in the program and the agency was able to meet the need despite diminishing funds, but this year there was a surge and now there are 25 on the waiting list, Barton said. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

Barton said the number of seniors — those age 60 and above — has grown in Isle of Wight County from 15 percent in 2011 to nearly 21 percent in 2016.

And because Isle of Wight is attractive to retirees, many then become separated from family support, she said.

The agency also provides an auxiliary grant program, and there are currently 11 individuals enrolled, Barton said.

The program is designed as a supplement to those receiving supplemental security income (SSI) and other aged, blind or disabled individuals residing in a licensed assisted living facility or approved foster care home.

Barton pointed out that assisted living facilities are diminishing in Isle of Wight for those individuals, such as Riverside eliminating services for Medicaid recipients, as well as the closing of the Zuni Presbyterian home next year. Plus there is no adult foster care program in Isle of Wight because of cost, she added.

Beyond the request, Social Services was planning on returning $133,500 in local funds from fiscal 2016 to the county — and given the exchange, it won’t impact the budget, as pointed out by Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson.

Newport District Supervisor William McCarty, who also sits on the Social Services Board, was in favor of granting the request despite his reputation for being fiscally conservative.

As a pastor, McCarty said he’s seen the need first hand. He knew of a woman who suffered a fall and went 12 hours before she was found.

“I’m sympathetic toward it. These are our citizens,” he said.  {/mprestriction}