Local organizations and volunteers recently announced the development of Santa Barbara Village, a non-profit organization that will provide the elderly with care services without live-in requirements.
The organization is an online community and functions as a social network through which volunteer workers and patients communicate. Members will pay a yearly fee that includes services such as transportation and home repair.
According to Susan Epstein, director of Santa Barbara Village, the organization is non-denominational and will serve anyone over 50 years old that lives from Carpinteria to Goleta.
“Santa Barbara Village is a community-wide initiative to enable seniors to live at home as long as possible and live their lives to the fullest as they age,” Epstein said. “It will create a strong sense of community among Village members, as well as providing a full menu of concierge services and a guarantee of high-quality home health care when needed.”
The Archstone Foundation recently gave a $74,250 grant to the organization. The funds will be administered through the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara to develop full-time services.
Although Epstein said it is “still too early” to give an exact launch date, the organization is actively working to build both their member and volunteer base.
“There has been a lot of response and excitement from the elderly community,” Epstein said.
Dr. Beverly Schydlowsky, clinical director of the Center for Successful Aging, and Elizabeth Wolfson, psychologist and professor at Antioch University, developed the idea for the program. Fifteen percent of the Santa Barbara population is comprised of the elderly, and Epstein said Schydlowsky and Wolfson saw a need for an alternative to senior facilities.
“They knew from the clients that they were counseling that a lot of elderly people want to stay in their homes but need help to do that,” Epstein said.
Wolfson and Schydlowsky heard about Beacon Hill Village, a similar organization located in Boston, MA. After flying the director of Beacon Hill out to Santa Barbara in 2009 for an informational meeting, the plans for the Santa Barbara Village were born.
Mary Ellen Kullman, vice-president of the Archstone Foundation, said she agreed there was a need among the community for alternatives to live-in elderly care.
“Ninety percent of seniors want to stay in the community they’ve been living in and … stay in their own home,” Kullman said. “The Village model engages seniors and other members of society in creating elder-friendly and -supportive communities.”
According to Kullman, the Village’s emphasis on sustaining a unique, engaged and involved community for seniors prompted the donation.
“We were looking for solutions that would make communities a more supportive place to grow old in,” Kullman said. “The Village is a really exciting model where communities are engaging with one another and envisioning how to make a community a place where anyone can be engaged in a healthy, productive way.”