The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) this week released a three-part video series called Community Engagement in Area Agencies on Aging. The series highlights three aging services organizations in New York that are meeting the needs of traditionally underserved populations in their communities.
A playlist for the series is available on YouTube here.
The video series was funded by the Building Resilient Inclusive Communities (BRIC) program in New York and produced by NYSOFA in partnership with Dr. Melicent Miller, a health equity specialist and the President and CEO of Health Forward LLC, who hosts the series. BRIC is a project of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, and its goal is to help organizations improve safe access to physical activity, promote healthy eating by improving nutrition security, and reduce social isolation and loneliness.
The video series was unveiled in Albany this week during the Association on Aging in New York’s Aging Concerns Unite Us (ACUU) conference. The event was attended by approximately 600 aging services professionals and organizations from across the nation.
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said, "Aging services providers play a vital role in promoting trust and proactively engaging with traditionally underserved populations to overcome barriers and equitably deliver services. This video series offers important perspectives, strategies, and program models for providers to adopt and ensure that their work is a true reflection of the communities they serve."
NYSOFA Advocacy Specialist Colleen Scott said, “NYSOFA is proud to showcase the demonstrated successes of aging services providers in reaching historically marginalized populations that have experienced unparalleled educational, economic, and health disparities. This video series provides important insights and strategies that serve as a model to support all aging services providers in their efforts to respectfully engage and provide appropriate service delivery to under-resourced populations.”
Association on Aging in New York Executive Director Becky Preve said, “The Association on Aging in New York is proud of the work being done through the aging services network to ensure equitable access to services and supports in underserved populations. Health equity is a right that every New Yorker should have, and this video series highlights how to successfully engage and provide services across social, racial, and ethnically dynamic communities. Many thanks to the partners that continue to work every day to make New York an age-friendly and inclusive place to live.”
President and CEO of Health Forward LLC Melicent Miller said, “As we work to achieve health equity in the aging space, it is important to move from traditional outreach strategies to true community engagement. Authentic community engagement takes time, as trust is not earned overnight, especially with communities that have been historically marginalized, underserved, and even forgotten. Aging services providers play a critical role in connecting with populations that might not otherwise have access to services and supports. This video series highlights how those trusted, mutually beneficial relationships are built and sustained.”
About the Video Series
Part 1: Onondaga County chronicles efforts by Onondaga County Department of Adult and Long-Term Care Services to serve the local Vietnamese population. At the heart of the county’s engagement effort is a special relationship that the office has forged with Mr. Vinh Dang. A prominent member of the Vietnamese community, Mr. Dang has strengthened the agency's connection with the Vietnamese community through Onondaga County’s "neighborhood advisers" program.
Part 2: Westchester County highlights the work of Westchester County Department of Senior Programs & Services in responding to the unique needs of specific communities. The county’s regional task force structure, telehealth, and chronic-disease self-management programs use peer-to-peer methods that help individuals see themselves in a shared experience with others also coping with chronic illness. The county also discusses the importance of direct participation in cultural events, trusted institutions, and other opportunities for community engagement.
Part 3: Suffolk County features the work of Suffolk County Office for the Aging and the LGBT Network to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ+ older adults through specialized services. LGBTQ+ adults are twice as likely as their peers to live alone. Many experience social isolation. This population is also less likely to access many services for the aging, including senior centers, meal programs, and other supports. Suffolk County Office for the Aging and the LGBT Network are working together to overcome these disparities.
The BRIC initiative is a national project with 20 states awarded funding to promote healthy living and reduce social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program emphasizes improving quality of life, reducing health inequities, and promoting social justice, with each state showing the unique ways they reach and provide services to underserved populations.
About the New York State Office for the Aging
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.6 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them. Stay connected—visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.