Town of Provincetown
FY 2022 Budget
Division 5: Public Services
541 Council on Aging
Since 1972, the Provincetown COA has been a welcoming resource and activity center for seniors and their families. Our mission is to promote positive, healthy aging and the well-being and independence of older adults by identifying their needs and interests, developing supportive programs, coordinating community services and advocating on their behalf. The Senior Center accomplishes this through the provision of:
- Programs: Classes, activities and special events in fitness, nutrition, wellness, education, creative arts, recreation, cultural outings, socialization.
- Services: Outreach, case management, info/referral, direct assistance and support services to clients in areas of cognitive/emotional/physical health, benefits assistance, housing, transportation, finances, legal and social services, family and caregiver support.
Participation at the Senior Center has grown steadily since moving into the VMCC in 2013. In FY2019, we served over 900 people and offered 175 programs and services. In FY2020, we were well on our way to exceeding those numbers when the pandemic hit. COVID-19 turned the operations of Senior Centers upside-down. Not only do we serve the population deemed early on to be most at-risk, our programming is based on in-person social interaction. Isolation is a critical determinant of health, especially for older adults, and promoting social connection is a cornerstone of our work.
When Town buildings closed in March, staff continued to work and immediately focused on providing essential services without interruption, including food access, wellness checks by staff, medical appointment rides with the Van Driver and more, while determining how to offer meaningful programs and meet changing needs remotely. In June, when staff re-entered the building, we were ablet o resume in-person podiatry and other critical services. With the repair of the VMCC roof, our kitchen has reopened and our Cook will begin to offer meal programs (curbside/delivery) again.
Everything we have been doing to serve seniors for during the pandemic is either brand new or we have had to learn how to do what we were doing in a new way and, for the most part, remotely. No one on staff was familiar with virtual technology. The Program Coordinator self-trained and then taught those skils to staff and seniors. We were able to start remote programs in late spring. Virtual programming options increase monthly and we are now offering as many new programs remotely each month as we were pre-pandemic. In an effort to reach those not accessing technology, we are working with PTV to create programming specifically for older adults and have continued to print a monthly newsletter.
Our already busy Outreach Coordinator has been able to assist people remotely and, when not possible, has provided outdoor, physically distanced visits. She has also learned new skills in assisting people with unemployment and other resources related to the pandemic. Mental health needs have always been a focus of outreach but never more so than now as people have struggled to cope through these difficult times.
COA staff has provided a lifeline to older residents as we support them in grieving the loss of the Senior Center and adapting to the uncertainties of life during a pandemic. Although difficult to describe to those not familiar with the Center, we are busier now than we have ever been. Virtual programming is very labor-intensive and COVID-related protocols take time on top of additional safety considerations. In addition, the services we have always provided to meet such needs as food accessibility, rides, financial programs, referrals regarding abuse or exploitation, caregiver support, assistance with cognitive or physical health challenges and more continue regardless of a pandemic.
The staff and the COA Board realize that the Senior Center will never go back to what it was. Although in-person programming will resume when it is safe to do so, we will always have a virtual component. We have learned that it allows access to people who cannot attend in-person programs due to physical or cognitive challenges and we are able to offer more diverse programming because speakers can lead from anywhere.
Thus, when we reopen, we will be providing more programming and services than in the past. With one of the smallest budgets in Town government (.7% of the entire budget), the COA has always managed to do a lot with a little. Given the fact that residents 60+ now make up 43% of the population in Provincetown, a number that is increasing rapidly, along with the additional responsibilities staff has taken on, in re-envisioning the Senior Center of the future, we anticipate budgetary needs increasing.
The FY2022 budget has increased.
Personnel: Increase is due to (1) reflecting full-time Administrative Assistant position previously divided between Budgets 541 and 512 Department of Human Services (no change in number of hours) and (2) reclassification of two positions approved at Annual Town Meeting.
Operating Expenses: Keeping in mind concerns regarding the economic impact of the pandemic on Town government, the FY2022 operating expenses budget is submitted with a 5% decrease from the FY2020 budget; however, given the population projections noted above, this will need to be addressed in the next budget cycle.
Major Accomplishments for FY 2020
- Prior to the pandemic, increased both the number of residents served and programs/services offered without additional staffing hours as the number of residents 60+ years of age continues to rise dramatically.
- Since the pandemic, did a complete pivot in operations to meet the needs of a high-risk population with staff taking on new roles and responsibilities. Provided essential services safely without interruption and independently developed alternative programming options, delivery of service models and safety protocols.
- Maintained an extremely active community outreach program pre/post-pandemic with a focus on changing needs.
- Sustained a critical medical transport program during the pandemic while broadening the diversity of off-site programming prior to it.
- Pre-pandemic, sustained and supported a robust group of volunteers (50), despite decreasing year-round population, allowing the Senior Center to grow in size and diversity of programming. Post-pandemic, established contacts with volunteers to maintain connection.
- The COA Board met monthly in FY2020 through March and was one of the first non-regulatory Boards to meet remotely. During the shutdown, the COA Director sent weekly updates to the Board.
FY 2022 Objectives
- Maintain focus on essential services and program enrichment during a time of changing needs and resources.
- Actively re-envision future operations, objectives and mission of the Senior Center with staff and COA Board.
- Evaluate staffing needs based on impact of pandemic on service delivery models and increasing older adult population.
- Strengthen and re-define efforts to increase public awareness of COA programs and services through communication platforms, marketing materials.
- Establish new timeline and plan for Provincetown Age-Friendly initiative.