Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders recently approved 36 competitive contracts for local aging network service providers that will allow senior citizens access to a host of beneficial programs and services.
"My colleagues and I on the Board are committed to providing the best services possible to our seniors many of whom are homebound and frail," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as Chairman of Senior Services. "These contracts cover a lot of support areas that allow our seniors to live independently."
Support areas covered in the contracts are transportation, legal services, caregiver services, social and recreational activities, benefits options counseling, mental health support and a host of other community based initiatives.
The cost of the combined 36 contracts is more than $2.6 million.
"Ocean County is home to more than 170,000 seniors," Vicari noted. "Our seniors do not have to worry about whether they will get a home delivered meal or if services will be available to them. We are committed to making certain services are available especially for the frail, elderly and disabled."
Over 523,000 units of service are planned for 2018 through 43 area plan contracts which are expected to serve over 31,000 older residents and their families.
In December the Freeholders awarded contracts to assure seniors would receive daily meals as part of the home delivered meal program and also at senior nutrition sites throughout the County.
"We continue our pledge to homebound and vulnerable seniors to provide a nutritious meal daily as part of our extensive senior nutrition program," Vicari said. "Ocean County will provide almost 300,000 meals to seniors in 2018.
"Close to 1,100 meals are currently prepared daily and distributed to homebound seniors as well as the eight congregate meal sites located throughout our County," Vicari said. "We operate one of the largest senior nutrition programs in the state."
The Freeholders, in December, awarded seven contracts to Community Services Inc., the major meal provider in Ocean County, to continue the nutrition program into 2018.
"There is no wait list in Ocean County for this program," Vicari said. "No senior in Ocean County goes hungry."
Vicari noted the meals are often a lifeline for the frail and disabled bringing not only nutritional value but also social contact.
The Annual Nutrition Screen for Community Services and for the Kosher Home Delivered Meal programs indicates 83 percent of home delivered and congregate meals clients are at high nutritional risk.
"These meals are reaching the people who need it most," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Gerry P. Little. "As liaison to our veteran population in Ocean County, many of these programs are providing important benefits and assistance to men and women that have served our country."
Access to information and assistance continues as the major focus for the Ocean County Office of Senior Services.
Senior Services staff responded to more than 6,500 callers/walk-ins in 2017 while there were more than 37,000 visitors to the Ocean County Office of Senior Services website as of Dec. 31, 2017.
"We will continue to meet the national challenge of the 10,000 "baby boomers" retiring each day and needing essential Medicare information and education," Vicari said. "We are first in the state for the number of State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) contacts by our 50 Ocean County based counselors."
All of the funded supports such as access, community support, home support and nutrition support are designed to improve the quality of life for older adults at all stages of aging from the newly arrived senior who benefits from Medicare counseling, educational programs, and health screenings to the older frailer individual who receives a home delivered meal or a home health aide visit.
"Our goal is to fund services and provide information and assistance that will keep older adults in their own homes in their own communities for as long as is safely possible," Vicari said.
For information on assistance for seniors contact the Ocean County Office of Senior Services at 732-929-2091 or 1-800-668-4899. An office representative is also available at the County Connection at the Ocean County Mall.