Harrisburg, PA – Because senior citizens are particularly at higher risk for having complications from COVID-19, Area Agencies on Aging and adult day centers have been slower to reopen than other buildings.

If you know of a senior citizen who needs some help, you can still call your county Area Agency on Aging to learn what resources are available.

Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging – 814-765-2696

Jefferson County Area Agency on Aging – 814-849-3096

Office of Human Services and Agency on Aging for Elk County – 814-776-2191

Please be patient as these centers might not reopen fully for a while.

However, they’ll still be providing vital services to seniors, including meals. For example, Parkside Community Center in DuBois is still offering take-out meals that you can order the day beforehand for a donation of $6. You can also choose to donate a meal to another person.

Menu June 22-26CALL 371-4000 TO ORDER FOR THE WEEKMONDAY 6.22 CHICKEN PHILLY SANDWICH, POTATO, DESSERT TUESDAY…

Posted by Parkside Community Center on Friday, 19 June 2020

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Harrisburg, PA – Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine and Sec. of Aging Robert Torres highlighted efforts to protect seniors and other vulnerable Pennsylvanians.

“Because long-term care is a part of so many Pennsylvanians’ lives, we have steadfastly sought to make this care the best it possibly can be. That’s why we’ve implemented recommendations from the Auditor General and are in the process of rewriting regulations based on a report from the Nursing Home Task Force and, that’s why we’ve enforced our existing policies,” Dr. Levine said.

She advised that the majority of Pennsylvania’s long-term care facilities are strictly following existing policies and have successfully prevented COVID-19 from becoming widespread, but in some facilities COVID-19 was harder to contain.

Whenever a long-term care facility in Pennsylvania reports just a single case of COVID-19, the Department of Health reaches out to conduct an assessment of the situation and offers a number of resources to the facility, as needed. Those resources could include having the facility work with ECRI, our infection control consultant, with our internal infection control teams, with the Patient Safety Authority, or deploying the Pennsylvania National Guard to assist with staffing.

Sec. Torres outlined the Department of Aging’s work to prepare for safely reopening operations of older adult services located in counties that are moving into the Green Phase, as well as initiatives to combat social isolation among older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

“In preparation for Pennsylvania’s phased-in reopening, the Department of Aging, in collaboration with representatives of Area Agencies on Aging and adult day centers, has developed procedures and best practices for resuming operations of adult day centers, senior community centers, aging services that involve in-person consumer contacts and in-home visits, and protective services,” said Aging Secretary Robert Torres. “This has all been done with the overriding objective of ensuring the health and safety of both participants and staff. The process of reopening will be conducted gradually, strategically and cautiously, while allowing flexibility at the local level to keep older adults and staff safe.”

Recognizing that seniors may have ongoing concerns and fears, alternative services and practices implemented as a result of this pandemic, such as maintaining different modes of getting meals to seniors, will continue for some time. Older adults needing a meal or in-home support can still call their local AAA. Questions regarding available aging services and resources can be directed to the PA Link at 1-800-753-8827.

Sec. Torres also noted that the Department of Aging’s Protective Services Office has continued to operate throughout the pandemic, with face-to-face safety measures in place to protect older adults and investigative staff. Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the statewide reporting hotline at 1-800-490-8505. This hotline is answered by a live person 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) has issued reopening guidance for aging services providers located in counties that are entering the green phase.

In collaboration with representatives of Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and adult day centers (ADCs), PDA has developed guidance and procedures for resuming operations of adult day centers, senior community centers (SCCs), and aging and protective services that involve in-person consumer contacts and in-home visits.

“The process of reopening will be conducted gradually, strategically and cautiously, while allowing flexibility at the local level to keep older adults and staff safe,” said Secretary of Aging Robert Torres. “There is not a “one-size-fits-all” approach to resuming operations and our overriding objective is to ensure the health and safety of older adults and staff.”

Guidance for SCCs has each AAA in a county that has entered the green phase identify which SCCs can reopen at full attendance and adhere to Centers for Disease Control and PA Department of Health precautionary and social distancing guidelines; which SCCs can reopen, but with reduced attendance to ensure social distancing; and which SCCs, if any, will not reopen immediately and provide the reason to PDA.

“Some Area Agencies on Aging and senior community centers may choose to reopen for in-person consumer services at a slower pace because they may not have the square footage to practice social distancing, or may currently lack volunteers or staff,” said Sec. Torres. “Our ongoing support for them will focus on working within the existing guidance to make service and activity decisions that best fit their individual capacities and situations.”

SCCs that fully or partially reopen are to develop new operational policies to address sanitation practices, social distancing, the number of participants attending at any one time, changes in programming, and communication of the new rules to participants. SCCs are required to routinely conduct health screenings and PDA has provided a health screening tool for this purpose.

Each SCC is to have a meal service policy in place that allows for social distancing, changes in meal service, and how it will manage meal service if it must serve fewer participants due to social distancing. Recognizing that seniors may have ongoing concerns and fears, alternative services and practices implemented at the start of the pandemic, such as maintaining different modes of getting meals to seniors, will continue for some time. Older adults needing a meal or in-home support are encouraged to call their local AAA.

PDA regulates more than 250 ADCs, which are non-residential facilities that support the health, nutritional and social needs of seniors and adults with disabilities. The reopening guidance recommends daily health checks for participants and staff prior to them entering program areas and use of a written wellness checklist developed by PDA. ADCs are to create separate areas both for screening participants who are entering the building, and for holding staff or participants with COVID-19 symptoms to wait until they can be transported out of the center.

“ADCs serve older adults who are among the most care-dependent,” said Sec. Torres. “The guidance we’ve developed provides cautionary measures that providers can take to ensure that participants and staff are protected as they adjust their center’s operations and activities.”

PDA has also issued guidance to AAAs to safely resume operations for in-person visits for aging services and protective services. The new screening tools for in-person visits – one focusing on consumer comfort level, the others on consumer health – have been created to help AAAs assess the situation and readiness of the older adult for resuming in-person visits.

“Our department recognizes the concerns and fears of older adults and staff regarding COVID-19, resulting in the need for ongoing caution and flexibility during the transition to normalize operations,” said Sec. Torres.

Sec. Torres noted that the protective services program has operated throughout the pandemic, with face-to-face safety measures in place to protect older adults and investigative staff. Anyone suspecting elder abuse should call the statewide reporting hotline at 1-800-490-8505 which operates 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

The reopening guidance documents, including health screening and other tools developed by PDA, can be found by clicking here and scrolling to “COVID-19 Reopening Provider Guidance.”

Visit the PA DOH’s dedicated Coronavirus webpage here for the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. Learn more about the various programs offered by the Pennsylvania Department of Aging here.