City council receives update on desired senior services

A report compiled by a consultant with Yolo County found that transportation and services were at the top of most senior priority lists.
Sheila Allen, the executive director of the Yolo Healthy Aging Alliance, delivers remarks on the final draft of a senior report to the Winters city council on Tuesday, October 16, 2018. Photo by Matthew Keys

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started offering free trips to a Vacaville Walmart store had not been highly utilized since the city began offering that service in June. Allen said a better model that was explored by the task force was a community care car that has been operating for nearly two decades in nearby Woodland. There, the city runs a dispatch center that solicits calls from seniors when they have somewhere they need to go. The city keeps tabs on the scheduling of the care cars and dispatches them according to the schedule. The program is all-volunteer run and overseen by a board of directors, and while it seemed to operate well for the seniors in Woodland, Allen said the task force decided against recommending that for Winters. Instead, the task force felt Winters seniors would be better served through either a micro-link service operated by Yolo Bus that uses smaller buses and vans to “link” seniors between routes or a Dial-a-Ride service similar to one subsidized by West Sacramento that is akin to a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft with a flat rate for seniors. For seniors who walk, safer sidewalks was a higher priority. Allen praised the city for undertaking a number of projects that revitalized some area sidewalks to make them more ADA-compliant and senior-friendly, but she noted many seniors provided feedback on what they felt were unsafe conditions along Grant Avenue, where a supermarket and bus stop often meant people had to walk across a busy intersection. The thoroughness of the report — which spanned nearly 100 pages — was aided by an outreach survey where more than 130 people, mostly older adults, expressed their thoughts and desires on topics and programs that they felt were important to senior citizens. The result of the survey found that most seniors wanted better local and regional transportation options, more in-home care and personal assistance services, better education about senior services that are offered and an expanded itinerary of exercises and computer learning classes. In addition to the survey, Allen and a UC Davis demographic graduate student examined the annual American Community Survey conducted by the federal Census Bureau. That survey found that Winters had more senior citizens between the ages of 50 and 64, with the senior population overall having a higher rate of poverty and unemployment and the least access to healthcare compared to those in other portions of the county. Some of those factors could be mitigated by the city implementing senior services based on the recommendation of the report and getting the $500,000 senior center project up and running, Allen said. City council members were impressed with the thoroughness of the report, which spanned nearly 100 pages, and said they were hopeful that the city may take action on some of the suggested noted in the report rather than having it “sit on a shelf” where it would go unutilized. Allen suggested the city create a commission on aging that would help get community residents involved in the implementation of senior programs and provoke city officials to get “things moving forward.” Allen also encouraged the city to continue forward with its application for recognition as an “age-friendly” community through AARP. The city began that project earlier this year, an an AARP representative said the completion of the senior report meant the city was already doing some of what was required from AARP for the designation. “My ears perked up when I heard that you’re going to be looking at your general plan,” Julie Bates, a representative with AARP, said at the council meeting. “If this is something that you’re interested in doing, the work that you had [Allen] do and the community do really set the groundwork for the age-friendly communities that really folds into your general plan.” Mayor Bill Biasi said the information and feedback received at the council meeting was good, including the suggestion that the city form a commission on aging — something he said the city would look at, but wouldn’t decide on that night.]]>

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