Local agencies receive additional funding to provide service to older adults

Published 12:02 am Thursday, March 17, 2022

SALISBURY — Four local agencies have received additional funding to provide life-sustaining and “aging in place” services to older individuals in Rowan County.

Meals on Wheels Rowan, Trinity Living Center, Rufty-Holmes Senior Center and Rowan County Department of Social Services have each been allocated a share of an additional $59,825 in Home and Community Care Block Grant funding.

HCCBG funds are a combination of federal and state funds with a local match intended to support agencies and organizations who provide services to older adults. The Board of Commissioners has discretion over how the funds are distributed in Rowan County and receives guidance from the Rowan County HCCBG Advisory Committee, which is made up of representatives from service providers.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is the lead facilitating agency appointed by the county commissioners for HCCBG funding. The center acts as a liaison between the county, the state and service providers and is responsible for overseeing the budget and facilitating discussions amongst committee members.

“Our HCCBG service providers continue to serve an increasing number of clients, assisting them in their independence to live healthy and safe in their homes,” said Nan Buehrer, executive director of Rufty-Holmes Senior Center.

Buehrer said the programs provided with HCCBG funds help older adults stay out of institutional settings, which are more costly to taxpayers if Medicaid is the only payer source. Rowan County expended $1.36 million in HCCBG funds in fiscal year 2020-21 to provide services to 985 clients plus 3,000 who attended the senior center that year, Buehrer said. In comparison, the county expended $29.9 million in Medicaid funds for 1,208 individuals’ nursing home care.

The initial amount of funding allocated to Rowan County for the current fiscal year ending in June was $984,970. The additional $59,825, which was announced in January, comes as a result of the North Carolina legislature approving a 10% increase in their portion of the HCCBG grant. The additional funds require at least a 10% county match, which means Rowan County will pitch in $6,647 as well.

The HCCBG Advisory Committee met in February to make recommendations for how the funding will be spent. The money must be spent by the end of the fiscal year on June 30. The board of commissioners earlier this month approved those recommendations, allocating $28,225 to Meals on Wheels, $13,000 to Trinity Living Center, $15,000 to Rufty-Holmes Senior Center and $3,600 to Rowan DSS.

Meals on Wheels will use the money to provide home-delivered meals to more than 240 homebound senior citizens in Rowan County. The organization reserves 90% of its available meals for individuals who do not have the resources to contribute to the cost of the meal program. There are currently 79 participants who receive free meals. It costs $3,000 to provide meals for one individual for one year.

“Every HCCBG allocation we receive helps us feed more folks,” said Cindy Fink, executive director for Meals on Wheels Rowan.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center’s allocation will help fund operations at its senior center and its six lunch club locations throughout the county. The meals are more than just nutritional, they also give seniors a chance to participate in activities, educational programs, social interaction and outreach services.

Trinity Living Center will use its portion of HCCBG funding for its community-based adult day services, which are designed to “meet the needs of frail elderly and functionally and/or cognitively impaired adults,” according to its website.

The additional $3,600 designated for the Department of Social Services will be used for its home aide services. These services help with daily living activities for adults with physical and/or cognitive impairment, with the level of care based on the individual’s need. The services can range from basic housekeeping, shopping, cooking, cleaning and essential errands to helping with bathing, dressing, using the toilet and feeding.

Rowan Transit also receives HCCBG funding, but is not slated to receive any of the additional money. Rowan Transit uses the funding to provide “life-sustaining” medical trips, adult day programs and senior congregate meals. Those services are generally available to any person 60 or older and are free to eligible people.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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