Community Conversation Kicks Off at South Kingstown Senior Services Center

Photo Credit: RI Division of Elderly Affairs — Karen Flint, Director of Senior Services for the Town of Narragansett with Karen Shabshelowitz (center) and Elderly Affairs Director Charles J. Fogarty

Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane and Division of Elderly Affairs Director Fogarty came to South Kingston Senior Center to host the first in a series of community conversations on caring for seniors and Rhode Islanders with disabilities.  More than 50 people attended and had the opportunity to share their thoughts on the needs of the senior population.

The Thursday event was held in partnership with Age Friendly Rhode Island at the South Kingstown Senior Center in Wakefield, Rhode Iwsland

Rhode Island’s senior population is growing rapidly. According to recent estimates, by 2030, one out of every four residents will be 65 or older. Many of Rhode Island’s seniors receive services through the state’s long-term care system. Similarly, many Rhode Islanders with disabilities are served by this system, which has historically been oriented toward institutional care. Over the last three years, the state has begun to shift toward a community-based model, closing sheltered workshops and group homes and increasing support for senior centers, community meal programs, and other supportive services.

As part of the effort to transform the state’s long-term care system, Governor Raimondo and members of her Cabinet are participating in a multi-phased effort to engage Rhode Islanders in designing the system of the future – one that puts people first and includes a diverse array of services and supports.

Creating a New Vision for Rhode Island’s LTC Services

Input from these listening sessions will guide development of formal workgroups later this year and an actionable vision for long-term services and supports in Rhode Island.

“Our goal is to be there for Rhode Islanders when they need us; that is our mission every day,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Eric J. Beane, stressing that “We don’t do it alone.

“Community advocates, caregivers, and our partners in government and industry play important roles in promoting quality care and helping people to live rich, fulfilling lives. We must continue to take a thoughtful approach and work together to strengthen and invest in our system. That means putting people first, taking a holistic view, and defining a path forward that leads to improved care and outcomes for Rhode Islanders. I enjoyed meeting seniors at this session and hearing about their experiences,” says Beane

Adds Elderly Affairs Director Charles J. Fogarty, “The work of my agency is centered around core principles – empowering seniors, preserving independence, and enriching lives.”

“After many years of declining funding for senior services under prior administrations, Governor Raimondo stepped up to the plate and made supporting local senior centers a top priority, fully funded Meals on Wheels, and has embraced the importance of home-and community-based support services. This session was a valuable opportunity to hear directly from our seniors in South County,” he says.

“A sidewalk curb cut that’s good for a baby stroller is also good for a wheelchair or a walker. This is an example of age-friendliness and communities that are good to grow up in and grow old in. I was pleased to participate in this discussion and learn from older Rhode Islanders in South County,” said Jody Shue, Director, Age-Friendly Rhode Island.

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