(Picture by Ryan Morrill)
Senior citizens who count on the county’s home-delivered foods plan can be confident the company will carry on in 2021.
The need for the plan has just about doubled amid the pandemic.
“The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a significant maximize in the want for dwelling-delivered meals for seniors residing in Ocean County,” stated Ocean County Commissioner Joseph H. Vicari, chairman of Senior Solutions. “While this program has often been a lifeline for the elderly dwelling in the county, that has hardly ever been more true than this calendar year.
“Before the pandemic commenced, we delivered foods to about 1,100 seniors a working day,” Vicari said. “Now, we are hunting at providing foods to nearly 2,000 seniors everyday. This is a monumental activity, but a single that will come with immeasurable gains as we present a service that retains our most vulnerable citizens harmless at home.”
The Ocean County Board of Commissioners (previously named Board of Selected Freeholders) on Dec. 16 authorised 7 contracts for Community Services Inc. that involve offering virtually 200,000 foods in 2021 to 1,940 clients. The 7 contracts for a host of products and services for seniors full $2.8 million.
“These expert services are vital to helping our seniors continue to reside independently,” Vicari claimed. “The demands have grown exponentially thanks to the pandemic. This board is fully commited to conference the wants of our most frail and vulnerable citizens.”
The want for household-sent meals grew to become higher as the variety of coronavirus conditions heightened and bigger constraints had been place in put. The restrictions meant senior facilities and congregate diet sites where by more mature older people commonly get for a meal were compelled to shut. In addition, many caregivers who assisted with meals ended up unable to go to with seniors.
“We now experienced a increased have to have and we had to address it,” Vicari associated. “In buy to do so we surveyed our congregate individuals, and any one in require of a food was extra to the dwelling-shipped meal software. Our figures practically doubled.”
The pandemic has also placed supplemental costs and burdens on the companies to guarantee the health and basic safety of the seniors they serve and their staff members, county officers explained.
“In purchase to securely get ready and distribute meals to homebound older grown ups without having exposing purchasers or workers to the virus, vendors had to incur the expense of personalized protecting machines, disinfectants and other products in addition to modifications to the provider delivery technique,” explained Maria LaFace, director of the Ocean County Office environment of Senior Expert services.
For instance, she reported, motorists delivering the foods can no lengthier have shut get hold of with customers, including personally handing them their food or chatting with them facial area-to-face. All motorists are required to don masks and gloves and preserve a distance of 6 feet, so foods are now still left on a table outside the entrance door or on the porch. Drivers do wait around to see if the purchaser picks up the meal, to make eye call and check out to gauge how the buyer is carrying out from a distance.
“While these important protocols have considerably diminished the impression of the social connections formerly appreciated with buyers, they have authorized both seniors and drivers to be stored secure,” LaFace mentioned.
In buy to make up for the absence of social get hold of when offering meals, Community Companies Inc. has amplified phone reassurance and wellness calls and has been executing them daily through the pandemic. In addition to contacting all people today who get home-delivered meals or who applied the congregate web sites, it is also sending out encouraging publish cards and notes reminding them that its staff members users are imagining of them and are there for them. It also continues to offer homebound seniors with personalized hygiene goods together with soap, rest room paper, paper towels and other residence wants.
“This has been a tricky calendar year for so a lot of people, but particularly these elderly individuals that are homebound,” Vicari pointed out. “The pandemic has built it almost extremely hard for them to get out for grocery buying and other essentials. The residence-shipped meals application proceeds to be a lifeline for our seniors. It is a little something our seniors count on, and we are fully commited to building particular it gives the help they require.” —M.S.