What Are Social Services? November 2007
What Are Social Services?
Every one of us has a vocabulary built from our experiences. Many of us have a professional vocabulary, one we speak with such fluency that we forget that others may not follow. I use a vocabulary built on 25+ years as a clinical social worker. In recent discussions at Plan for the Future Day and Borough Council as well as in my daily encounters with staff and participants, I have become aware that some of the vocabulary I use to describe what we do at PSRC may not be universally understood.
I blithely state that PSRC offers programs and social services to older adults, their families and caregivers. But what are social services really? Some people think the term “social services” refers to State and Federal poverty benefits, or to State services for abused and orphaned children. “Not for me” you say. Others think we mean social events like the Holiday Party. “Not my cup of tea.”
The social services offered by the Princeton Senior Resource Center encompass all the ways that we try to help seniors age in place safely, with dignity, and with the support you need. They are the ways we help you make the transitions that come during the second half of life, such as changes in health, loss of loved ones, and moving from the family home. They include the ways we help family caregivers. These services are offered to everyone in the Princeton area, regardless of income, education, ethnic or cultural background. Everyone ages. Our services include:
· ``` Information and referral: We use our collection of resource guides, the internet and past experience to answer questions and help you connect with services and resources in this area. We are also affiliated with the Mercer County Office on Aging and their network of information. Examples include giving you the telephone number for Ride Provide or Meals on Wheels, registering you for flu shots and other health screenings, or explaining the difference between independent living, assisted living and home care.
·A Assistance with benefit programs: We help you check whether you are eligible for federal, state and local benefit programs and provide assistance if you need help applying.
· E Education: We offer seminars on topics such as Medicare Part D, identity theft and new technology, as well as writing about topics of interest in Mature Princeton to keep you informed.
· C Consultations and Assessments: We meet with older adults, their families and/or caregivers to find out what your concerns are, what resources you have to meet your needs, and what gaps need to be filled. Often it helps to talk to an experienced professional to identify areas of concern, to identify options, and to recognize potential resources.
· T Transitions brief counseling: Sometimes it is helpful when going through a life change to talk to someone a few times, or periodically over several weeks.
· S Support groups: Support groups provide a forum for sharing with a professional and others going through similar experiences. Peers may have found the resource you are seeking or offer a suggestion from their own journey.
·L Local appointments: We host Food Stamps, the State Health Insurance Program, AARP tax assistance and others for your convenience.
· V Volunteer visitors: The HomeFriends and LINK Programs match volunteers with older adults and people with disabilities who have difficulty leaving their homes. These volunteers provide more than weekly friendship; they do grocery shopping, read mail, and other simple tasks to help you stay independent.
·C Caregiver Support: A key part of helping older adults is providing support to their caregivers, particularly “informal unpaid” caregivers such as family members (both near and distant), neighbors and friends.
Case management: Many situations are complex, involving several concerns and therefore many service providers. Circumstances may also change rapidly. It helps to have a consistent person (case manager) who can coordinate all the parts. We will be significantly expanding our ability to provide this kind of support in the coming year.
If you, or someone you know, could use any of these services, please call the PSRC Social Service team at 252-2362 or stop in to see us.
Susan W. Hoskins, LCSW