Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is a private non-profit agency serving elders and disabled adults who reside in Northeast Massachusetts. Established in 1974, our mission is to support an individual’s desire to make their own decisions, secure their independence, and remain living in the community safely. Elder Services Care Managers and Nurses work with thousands of elders and family members each day to make sure they have the right services, living arrangements, and access to good health care and benefits. We contract with over 70 different care providers to ensure services delivered meet a variety of individual needs. Recently we produces a 40th Anniversary video about our agency entitled, “Our Family: Services Staff and the People We Serve”, which you can Click here to watch! You can also learn more about us at www.esmv.org
We began offering evidence based programs around 2005. Today, we offer a wide variety of programs, including Chronic Disease Self Management Program, Tomando, Chronic Pain Self Management, Diabetes Self Management, Spanish Diabetes Self Management, A Matter of Balance, Healthy Ideas, Enhanced Wellness, Powerful Tools for Caregivers, and others. We are also the home of the Massachusetts Healthy Living Center of Excellence (www.healthyliving4me.org), which provides statewide technical assistance for evidence-based programs.
Offering programs with proven outcomes is attractive to us, primarily because we want to be sure that the adults we serve are benefiting from the best possible interventions. We want them to have better lives, better health and a better overall care experience. When we seek to partner with health care providers to ensure that this better care experience happens, it helps that we are able to show the positive outcomes that come as a result of doing an EBLC program.
Making sure we provide enough support to our trained staff and volunteers is always a challenge. We want to make sure staff have enough time to devote to implementing programs, especially when they have multiple responsibilities within the agency. With volunteers, we want to be sure we are honoring their time and commitment since they are at the heart of successful implementation.
Before any one is trained to offer a program, we make sure they understand the time and commitment it takes to successfully implement. We also make sure their supervisors understand and further commit to giving staff the time it takes to lead workshops. After staff and volunteers are trained, we invite them to bi-monthly coalition meetings, offer regular continuing education webinars, and host an annual leadership conference called, “Sharpening Your Skills”. This helps leaders know they are valued and appreciated and helps them stay engaged and motivated to run programs.
Just do it! The programs have been so meaningful to the lives of not only our community members but also to our staff and volunteers. Of course, you want to spend enough time deciding which programs are the best fits for your populations, as well as learning the investment you can expect to have to make in starting up programs. The EBLC members are there to help think through these things and reaching out to them will prove invaluable.