• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Support workers for seniors have ‘the biggest influence’ on their quality of life | Guam News

ByJulie J. Helfer

Apr 18, 2022

For many older adults in Guam, social work programs that improve local housing can make a difference in their quality of life.

“Housing is not an isolated issue. It is linked to … employment, transportation, access to health care, access to other services,” said Elizabeth Napoli, acting director of the Guam Housing and Urban Renewal Authority, during the 2022 edition of Guam Housing. Symposium. “And (one) important thing to remember is that many older and disabled people need support staff because they can be the biggest influence on their quality of life – I can’t stress enough.”

Quality of life is directly related to housing, according to Charlene San Nicolas, administrator of the Senior Citizens Division of the Guam Department of Public Health and Human Services.

“So when seniors come to our office, whether at our Castle Mall location or we receive access through our contracted provider, Health Services of the Pacific, they assess and determine what the needs are. of older people, whether it is housing, transportation or access to caregiver services,” said San Nicolas.

The Elderly Division provided services to approximately 3,905 manåmko’, or about 3% of the island’s elderly population, or those aged 60 and over, according to Guam’s 2010 census cited by San Nicolas .

Of this amount, the Seniors Division provided case management services to approximately 2,447 seniors and provided 19,436 case management units.

Case management units are instances where older people receive access assistance. The effort, however, is challenged by a shortage of social workers.

“We’re looking at a period of 10 social workers. Those 10 social workers, that’s based on our budget that we approved, for this program, and that’s going to be high on the direct service side,” San Nicolas said.

A decade has passed since the census data was released, and since then the demand for services has increased.

“Some of the trends identified over the past three years are a transition of clients requiring therapeutic and non-medical assistive care,” San Nicolas said. “So that’s been in there, in terms of housing need.”

She said the pandemic has been good for the Office of Adult Protective Services, as the federal government has provided additional funding.

The golden age of the “golden years” of life for many people aged 60 and over depends on their level of independence. Not all manåmko’ can live independently, and some need the help of professionals, including caregivers.

DPHSS worked with subject matter experts in Georgia focused on personalized home care.

“It breaks my heart when I have someone who is finally housed but then a health care situation arises and they need help with care even for a short time and they can’t. get because they can’t afford it,” Napoli said. “That’s the problem – many older people really can’t live independently without some sort of assistance.”

Support Services

Currently, the Seniors Division offers six support services to the manåmko’ of Guam:

• Case management services.

• Adult day care centres, scheduled to reopen in May.

• 12 Senior Centers, oriented towards socialization and access.

• Home care programs.

• Contract transportation for medical and other non-return to work needs.

• Legal services, which resumed in 2020.

Public Health also offers group and home nutritional meal programs. In fiscal 2020, nearly 438,000 meals were served to homebound seniors.

“It’s Monday through Sunday, excluding 10 holidays,” San Nicolas said. “That’s 437,688 meals, so think about it.”

“It’s really necessary”

With a number of older residents relying on support services from agencies such as DPHSS and GHURA, expert panelists agreed that efforts must be aimed at getting people interested in careers in social work.

“Encourage interest in this direct service, social service program, as a professional career – it’s really needed,” Napoli said. “It’s not just a problem here, the lack of support services, it’s a national problem, and I think something needs to be done to try and get our younger generation interested in considering this as a career. Can Maybe public policy can work on ways to encourage that as a professional career.”