By Fred Silverman
About a year after the Aging Action Initiative was formed in 2015, the Inform&Connect workgroup came together to design a training about resources for older adults in Marin County. There are many wonderful services available to older adults in Marin, but it was clear that there was no ready way to understand how to provide referrals.
AAI decided to hold a one-day event that would provide basic knowledge about local agencies and the services they offer. The training was aimed at front-line staff and volunteers such as receptionists, information and referral staff, social workers, and others who might be asked about local services. Although all were welcome, the focus was on newer staff and volunteers unfamiliar with the landscape of care in Marin.
The first training was held in February 2016. Approximately 30 attendees spent a jam-packed day learning from local experts about housing, transportation, access to mental health services, opportunities for social interaction, and aging in place. In addition, attendees were led through a self-care exercise to combat burnout. The training was designed to be interactive with time allotted for questions and answers. Facilitators sat at each table to encourage discussions about the materials being presented.
Based on evaluations submitted by the attendees, the training was a huge success. Attendees reported leaving with a much better understanding of the scope of services throughout Marin. In addition, attendees praised the networking parts of the day. Several met face-to-face people they had previously only emailed. These connections were often rated the most valuable outcome of the day.
Based on the positive reviews, AAI decided to continue these workshops. Over the course of the next three years, the training, now called the Inform&Connect Academy, was presented five times, training over a hundred people in Marin’s public agencies, nonprofits and healthcare organizations.
In August 2018, AAI partnered with the Marin Interfaith Council to present a half-day tailored event for spiritual leaders in Marin in conjunction with the Marin Interfaith Council. Similar collaborations with targeted themes are in the works with other agencies that serve specific populations.
Last year, the Inform&Connect program expanded to address a compelling need. A new academy called “85+” was added to delve deeply into services for older adults with a high level of need. Renamed this year to the “Sunset Years,” the academy will explore needs specific to people in the last year(s) of their lives. This training includes a “death cafe” so attendees have a chance to explore in a safe place their own experiences and beliefs about death and dying. Other presentations include information about legal documents, palliative care and hospice, as well as ways to help people age-in-place, including housing options.
This fall, AAI will present two academies. Register now before they fill up!
Inform&Connect Academy: Basic Resources for Older Adults, Tuesday, October 15 at Homeward Bound in Novato.
Inform&Connect Academy: The Sunset Years, Tuesday, November 12 at Homeward Bound in Novato.
Both events are free and include lunch prepared by Homeward Bound’s culinary academy. Looking forward to seeing you there!