The Options Counseling program, now available through SeniorCare Inc. at Addison Gilbert Hospital, is a free state service that assists people in making informed choices about their own care, while encouraging the widest possible use of community-based options to allow them to live as independently as they can in the setting of their choice.
Administered by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission, Options Counseling is a service of the Aging and Disability Resource Consortia of the Greater North Shore (ADRC), of which SeniorCare Inc. is a member.
SeniorCare administers the program on Cape Ann and is staffing the new office at the hospital, which is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 3 p.m. for walk-in service. The office is located near the registration desk at the entrance to the hospital.
The program assists seniors age 60 and older, as well as adults with disabilities, age 22 and older, who may have an immediate or anticipated need for community care or other long-term supports and services.
Counseling can be provided by phone, in person, or by email, and is available in the consumer's home, at an agency, in a hospital, at a rehabilitation facility, or in a nursing home.
The options counselor provides unbiased information, helps ensure that the individual retains control over the process, and helps determine the next steps to take.
Counseling is meant to take place short-term, but may last as long as it is helpful for the consumer or his, her family or other supports.
Individuals and caregivers can receive information about a range of care options, and are informed about the resources that can help pay for such services.
Options counseling services are provided free of charge, whether the individual receives public benefits or is using his, her own resources to pay for care, and the core of the short-term interactive planning process revolves around the consumer's needs, preferences, and values.
Because of this program, it is hoped that more individuals will have the information and support they need to make an informed choice about current or future care and services available, and that, prior to the need for long-term placement, consumers are able to explore all community options that they might want or need to remain in the community.
Local residents can speak to an options counselor at the hospital, or by calling SeniorCare from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 978-281-1750.
Anne Springer is the public relations director of SeniorCare Inc., Cape Ann's local area agency on aging. To reach SeniorCare, call 978-281-1750.