Chamber Member Brings New Life to Aging Services
Established in 1974, The Aging Services of North Central Massachusetts (ASNCM) has paved new opportunities for the older adult community through passion, heart, and a collective hive mind to provide new and improved support services to older adults.
In 2021, the agency changed its name from Montachusett Home Care (MHCC) to better reflect its mission. ASNCM is a private non-profit with a volunteer Board of Directors that is made up of representatives from the local Councils on Aging and people aged sixty and older who live in the communities they serve.
ASNCM is one of 24 Aging Service Access Points (ASAPs) across the Commonwealth and are regulated by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.
The overall mission of ASNCM is to provide comprehensive information and quality services so older people and their families are empowered to make personalized choices to ensure a life of dignity, safety, and respect.
“Part of who we are is that we try to empower people to stay safely at home for as long as possible,” said Lori Richardson, CEO of ASNCM. “I entered the field of aging services because I was a caregiver for my mother-in-law, Joyce, who had Alzheimer’s. My husband Jeff and I walked the walk of caregiving for seven years; we were overwhelmed, we felt alone, and we did not know where to find the answers, because we were unsure of what were the right questions to ask. Joyce died at ‘home.’ She remains an inspiration to me of that human spirit, dignity, and respect.”
Before we realize it, in a blink of an eye, you may have noticed your mother, your father, or a beloved relative, friend, or neighbor in need of additional support. This is where ASNCM provides a plethora of services, resources, and support to families throughout Central Massachusetts.
This support could include basic tasks that could be taken for granted such as cooking, cleaning, driving, laundry, or managing finances. Sometimes the needs for support for a loved one can include eating, dressing, getting in and out of bed or a chair, taking a bath or shower.
The heart of ASNCM’s mission is one family member at a time, including their caregiver support program. This program provides you the support and services you need to make life easier for yourself and the individual you’re caring for.
The staff dedicated exclusively at ASNCM provides comprehensive information and options counseling. Additionally, the case managers and nurses assess the individual needs of older adults and develop a personalized comprehensive service plan to meet the needs.
“Needs change. We are partners in supporting the changing needs,” Richardson stated.
ASNCM has a provider network of direct care professionals who deliver the services into the home. Each provider must meet established policies, insurance coverage, training, background checks and quality metrics.
“Because of COVID, we needed to pause as a community and think about, ‘where were we?’ So, we embraced technology throughout the change,” said Richardson.
A case worker could be in the car or a lobby, and see the consumer’s face, apartment/home, and have that interaction if there was any concern for abuse or neglect. This kept everyone safe, healthy, and protected.
The inclusion of technology into adult protective services has made its impact in Los Angeles County, CA and throughout the Commonwealth of MA. The L.A. County will now be implementing ASNCM’s plan for this technology. ASNCM is working together to help them with the technology for protective services in California.
“We are all connected, and we can all learn from each other. I could have the best cell phone, the best gadgets in the world, but if I don’t have the heart, I’m nowhere. Add the technology, add the heart, and we can make a positive difference in the world,” she said.
She also discussed the economic work force challenges. “We continue to recruit for case managers and nurses. Our provider agencies that deliver services in the homes are challenged by vacancies as well. This is not just in North Central Massachusetts, but across the Commonwealth and entire nation. Prior to the pandemic, ASNCM averaged thirty consumers waiting for services; now the numbers are in the hundreds. We are relentless in our work to meet the needs of every single consumer, while being honest and transparent as to the challenges.”
ASNCM continues to change the stigma about aging through their Age Well Expo on Sept. 29th, 2022, at the Great Wolf Lodge in Fitchburg, Ma.
The Age Well Expo is for older adults and family members to discover what their further interests are. Vendors at this expo will be from the local community and covering a variety of interests, whether it is yoga, meditation, health screenings, money management, caregiving, and more.
“Everyone that walks through the expo will absolutely leave with something to think or gain some knowledge about,” she said. “This is our first expo after [the pandemic], so we are excited to show everyone that getting older doesn’t mean that you’re stuck.”
Richardson is grateful to the North Central Chamber of Commerce for facilitating avenues for increased partnerships and development.
“ASNCM recently had two employees participate in and graduate from the Chamber’s Leadership Training Institute. The positive impact LTI had on our employees was incredible; relationships built and fostered is a win-win for our employees and our mission.”
ASNCM is partnering with the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce by sponsoring its Young Professionals group next year.
“On a daily basis we strive to make a positive difference for older adults through our people, programs, providers and our community partnerships. It is worthwhile and honorable to do so,” stated Richardson.
You can learn more about the Aging Services of North Central Massachusetts by visiting www.agingservicesma.org.