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Lawrence agency observes 'Information and Referral Day'

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Every day, thousands of people find the help they need quickly, conveniently, and free of charge because of Information and Referral services. To recognize the importance of these services in our community, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 observed I&R Day with others across the country on Nov. 16. The AAA7 specializes in providing information and assistance regarding home and community-based services for older adults and those with disabilities in 10 southern Ohio counties including Adams, Brown, Gallia, Highland, Jackson, Lawrence, Pike, Ross, Scioto and Vinton.

Information and Referral is the art, science and practice of bringing people and services together and represents an integral component of the health and human services sector. People in search of critical services such as financial assistance, food, shelter, child care, jobs, or mental health support often do not know where to begin to seek help, or they become overwhelmed when trying to find what they need. With I&R services, the information can be available with one simple phone call, email or website.

In late 2011, at the request of the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS), the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating Nov. 16, 2011, as "National Information and Referral Services Day." The celebration continues each year on the same day to raise public awareness and recognize the critical importance of the I&R field. AIRS is an international non-profit professional association with a membership of more than 1,200 public and private I&R organizations, including the Area Agency on Aging District 7.

Through its designation as an Aging and Disability Resource Network (ADRN), AAA7 Information and Referral (I&R) Specialists are responsible for five core functions including: information, referral and awareness; options counseling, advice and assistance; streamlined eligibility determination for public programs; person-centered transition support; and quality assurance and continuous improvement. Through these core functions, the AAA7 is committed to their role as a resource where community members of all ages, disabilities and income levels can turn for information and assistance with long-term living services and support options. Staff attempt to provide as much information as possible regarding Agency services as well as additional resources in the community. Eligibility and wait lists can occur with some programs and services. I&R Specialists attempt to provide callers with reliable information and helpful assistance in determining what options and choices might be available for them in the community in order to make the best decisions about their own personal or family needs for the present and future.

Through the AAA7's Resource Network, I&R Specialists can also offer callers a no-cost, in-home consultation from a certified AAA7 nurse or social worker to discuss long-term care alternatives and planning. Staff works with individuals and their families on options, resources and information regarding community and home-based long-term care. Regional collaborations and partnerships with a number of groups who support services and programs through the AAA7 are also an important feature of the ADRN. Through these partnerships, callers and consumers are provided with a number of options that best support their needs.

Anyone in the community who would like to learn more about long-term care options and community resources can call the AAA7 toll-free Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at 1-800-582-7277. As a reminder, I&R Specialists will assist callers as best they can, but callers should be aware that eligibility requirements stand for some programs as well as wait lists. Should this occur, staff will help callers as best as they can with identifying other resources or options that may be available.

Your local Area Agency on Aging District 7, Inc. provides services on a non-discriminatory basis. These services are available to help older adults and those with disabilities live safely and independently in their own homes through services paid for by Medicare, Medicaid, other federal and state resources, as well as private pay. In addition to calling the toll-free number, information is also available on www.aaa7.org, or the Agency can be contacted through e-mail at info@aaa7.org. The Agency also has a Facebook page located at www.facebook.com/AreaAgencyOnAgingDistrict7.

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