OHIO VALLEY — Every day, thousands of people find the help they need quickly, conveniently, and free of charge because of Information and Referral (I&R) services. To recognize the importance of these services in the community, the Area Agency on Aging District 7 (AAA7) observed I&R Day with others across the country on November 16.
The AAA7 provides home and community-based services for older adults and those with disabilities in ten 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.
In late 2011, at the request of the Alliance of Information and Referral Services (AIRS), the U.S. Senate passed a resolution designating November 16 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 nonprofit professional association with a membership of more than 1,200 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 its 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 should the Agency not have a program or services that would be available or appropriate. 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 licensed 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 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 with identifying other resources or options that may be available.