Meet Heidi and Jacklyn of the ElderSource Institute9/28/2017
Eldersource Institute is a sister company with Eldersource, the area's Agency on Aging and Disability Resource Center which serves the 7 counties of N.E. Florida. Eldersource receives funding to help older adults in our community in underserved areas, but unfortunately, as the aging population increases, the funding is not growing. So Eldersource Institute was started as a social enterprise designed to create additional revenue that can be put back into the organization to better serve our community.
Describe what your organization does
We are the educational and training arm of Eldersource and we create programs to fill gaps in the educational needs of professionals and organizations in the community who serve older adults, the older adults themselves, their caregivers, and people such as ourselves who just want to educate and prepare ourselves for the aging process.
How is the ElderSource Institute leading the way in the work you do?
We are unique in that most non-profits simply receive funding and perform their services for the community. Thanks to the vision of Linda Levin, one of the Board members of ElderSource, the ElderSource Institute was created as a separate 501C3 company to create revenue-generating programs for the Agency on Aging. As such we can apply for grants as well as generate income which goes directly back to the agency allowing it to better serve the community.
What are some of the gaps in the older community?
Most of the gaps are educational. We reach out to both the professionals as well as the students preparing to serve the elderly to prepare them with the knowledge and resources they will need to effectively work with older adults. While their education and background typically have prepared them to perform their job-related tasks, it is often the soft skills they are lacking, such as age sensitivity, the ability to communicate effectively using the appropriate language, and the awareness of elder abuse and prevention. Our 90-minute trainings are very comprehensive and equip people with the information and tools they will need to actually go out and better serve. They are offered both online and in person, at our facility or we can come to the business location if it is more convenient. We are also partnering with Universities here in the local area and our online classes allow us to reach a national audience.
I'm curious what type of background and training you each have had to prepare you for the challenging positions you now hold.
Heidi has a background in Corporate Healthcare, specifically in rolling out a new healthcare organization and growing it on a national level. She previously ran her own nutrition business and worked in home healthcare. Her current position utilizes her blend of skills including an understanding of healthcare, an entrepreneurial spirit, and her love for senior citizens. Jacklyn has a Masters Degree in Social Work from NYU. She has worked both in direct service, mostly with youth but also with older adults, and also in policy, so finds her current involvement on the program level a perfect fit. They both get a great deal of satisfaction from the knowledge that they are making a difference in people's lives.
What do most people not know about your organization?
In addition to age sensitivity training, one of our newest trainings is the "Missing Pieces Plan", which was created by a woman named Jody Guiles This program provides training on the necessary documents and helps people prepare to deal with end of life issues for both themselves, and/or people for whom they are responsible. We also currently have a huge focus on the aging LGBT community, a very important and often forgotten demographic. We received a large grant from the LGBT Fund, part of the community foundation and are sharing the program we created on a national level.
How can the community and local organizations become involved?
In addition to making themselves familiar with the issues surrounding the aging population through our trainings, we have just launched a certification program for individuals and businesses who have completed our LGBT Elder Cultural Competency Training. We've trained over 2,000 people in the past 2 years in hundreds of companies. We do a consultation with the participants to start developing a tool kit with all the pieces they will need, including policies and marketing materials, to truly be LGBT-friendly. Once completed, their names will be placed in a database to be used as a resource when people call our hot-line seeking LGBT-friendly business providers that they can feel confident are prepared to care for their special needs and with whom they can feel safe.
What does the future hold for your organization?
We are very excited to be rolling out a new series of evidence-based programs focusing on nutrition and mental wellness, which we have received feedback are really needed within the older adult community. That platform should be available by the end of the year and will include 6-8 classes on each topic, which we will take out into the community to help older adults learn to better take care of themselves. These "Evidence-based" programs are backed by extensive research and have been peer-reviewed to assure they produce their intended outcomes.
Tell us about your upcoming trainings for anyone who does want to get involved.
For anyone who is interested in our Age Sensitivity Training, we have another program scheduled for September14 from 12-1:30 right here at our facility at a cost of $15.00. It's a real hands-on "Live a Day in the Life Of" program that will help participants understand some of the limitations that come naturally with age. You may register for this or any of our trainings on our website: www.eldersourceinstitute.org, where you will find lots of useful information on what we do and how you can get involved.