Bristol Elder Services and Councils on Aging:
A Partnership Key to Elder Independence in the Community

People want to age in their own homes and communities, and partnerships are key to community-based independence.  A prime example is the coordination of needed services that takes place between Bristol Elder Services (Bristol) and the Councils on Aging (COAs) in 15 communities in southeastern MA.  By working together, the organizations provide the support required for elders to remain at home or return home after a nursing home or hospital stay.

Bristol and a local COA work together to help elders access the service each organization offers.  Making sure that people receive “meals on wheels” is one example.  Bristol manages the Nutrition Program, and many COAs operate a lunch site and/or deliver the meals.  Each organization refers participants to the other, when appropriate.

If you receive services from Bristol or a COA, you may want to let your case manager or outreach worker know that you are involved with the other organization.  This ensures the best coordination.  Because each organization adheres to a standard of confidentiality, you must give verbal and/or written permission before the organizations can talk to each other about your service needs.   

Bristol
, a private company funded primarily with state and federal money, has a goal of helping elders remain in the community.  Staff members work hand-in-hand with elders, their caregivers, and professionals, such as COAs, to do so.

Services available through Bristol include:

  • Caregiver support
  • Crisis services
  • Day care
  • Educational programs
  • Financial relief funds
  • Health and insurance options and public benefit counseling
  • Housing options
  • In-home services, such as homemaking and assistance with personal needs
  • Legal services
  • Nursing home options
  • Nutrition services
  • Transportation

COAs/Senior Centers are part of the local government, and work with other senior agencies and city/town departments to provide social, recreational, health, safety, and educational programs for seniors that enhance mental, physical, and emotional well-being.  COAs provide information and referral to seniors, their caregivers, and other people with aging issues. 

Most COAs operate Senior Centers for residents age 60 or older.  Senior Centers range in size from small, part-time, volunteer-run centers to large facilities with game rooms, exercise equipment, and a full schedule of programs.  COAs encourage seniors to be actively involved in the planning and operation of senior center activities.

The types of services offered by Councils on Aging vary but may include:

  • Information and referral
  • Outreach
  • Public benefits and health insurance counseling
  • Exercise and fitness programs
  • A noon time meal site
  • Transportation
  • Health screenings and clinics
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • Computer training
  • Arts and crafts
  • Day trips
  • Tax assistance
  • Friendly visiting and telephone reassurance
  • Movies and live entertainment
  • Book groups
  • Food shopping assistance
  • Peer support groups
  • Supportive day care
  • Errands and handyman service
  • Cards, billiards, and other games
  • A senior newsletter

Click on the link to the left for information on your local Council on Aging.