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July 26, 2011

◊ Promote your firm as an Elder Friendly® certified business

Filed under: Elder Friendly Business — Mark @ 9:50 pm

By Katie Gaetjens MSW,JD Retired; Elders in Action Volunteer

Orginally published in the Oregon State Bar Elder Law Newsletter July, 2011

As an elder law attorney, you have chosen to focus your practice on serving the needs of elderly clients.  But is your office truly “elder friendly?”

Elders in Action, a non-profit focused on advocacy and education to assure that “quality of life does not depend on age,” has developed an evaluation program to help you assess whether your practice is meeting the needs of your clients beyond providing legal counsel.

The Elder Friendly® business certification program covers Clackamas, Multnomah, Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County, Washington. The program has been in existence since 1993 and has continued to evolve and adapt to changes in technology and the marketplace.

The goal of Elders in Action is to work with businesses to make their offices a more welcome place for older adults. Volunteer evaluators attend a half-day training session and use an online survey tool that was developed by older adults through focus groups and a gerontology specialist who identified the needs of the older consumer.

How the process works

The original certification involves three or four volunteer evaluators who contact and visit the business. The four main areas of focus are:

  • Access to the Site By Phone (able to find, answering, information provided)
  • Physical Access to the Site (parking, public transportation, restrooms,)
  • Layout of the Site (lighting, flooring, ability to move around, seating)
  • Customer Service (communication, clarity of information)

Participating businesses receive a summary report presented by an Elders in Action staff person and a volunteer evaluator.  The report includes an overview of the evaluations, recommendations for potential changes or improvements, and specific comments from the evaluators.  Every evaluation is confidential and is an opportunity to learn how an older adult sees your office.

In addition, a Web site evaluation is done to provide feedback on the site from the point of view of an older adult.

Once your practice is certified you will receive an Elder Friendly® Business decal to display at your office as well as links to graphics that you can use on your website and printed materials.

A follow up evaluation is done for recertification with a smaller number of evaluators

Why does certification matter?

First, obtaining certification assures that as an elder law practitioner you have done everything you can to make your clients’ experience with you comfortable and stress free.  Seeking legal counsel can be intimidating for anyone at any age; it can be especially stressful for elderly people who may have to contend with additional obstacles such as mobility, vision, or hearing issues. You can help minimize these issues.

Second, obtaining certification entitles you to be listed in the Elders in Action Elder Friendly® Business Directory, both in hard copy and online. As this program grows we receive calls from an ever-increasing number of elderly people looking for referrals for a variety of services, including legal services. We emphasize when making referrals that we are not endorsing the quality of service, but rather the access and customer service provided by a given business.  Knowing that an office is certified as Elder Friendly provides a level of confidence that they will be treated well, respected, and feel comfortable in the business.

Finally, we receive feedback from people who have used referrals from our directory: often compliments and sometimes challenges they have encountered.  We in turn pass this information on to certified businesses so they can address any issues that can be remedied so that their next client is met with the best service possible. This can be valuable feedback for organizations.

What does certification cost?

The initial cost is $300 for businesses with fewer than 50 employees.  The annual renewal fees are $200.

How do I obtain more information or begin the process?

To be included in the printed 2012 Elder Friendly Business Directory you must start the certification process by September 15. Contact Joan@eldersinaction.org or call 503.235.5474. For more information about our organization go to www.EldersinAction.org

July 25, 2011

☛ Action Alert: Big Week for Protecting Social Security and Medicare

Filed under: The Commission — Mark @ 11:58 pm

This is a big week for protecting Social Security and Medicare.   We need you to call your members of Congress and tell them to keep Social Security and Medicare benefits off the table as they vote on deals to reduce the nation’s budget deficit.  It’s critical that your members of Congress hear from you before the vote.  Here is two great ways to make sure your voice is heard.

Tuesday, July 26th: MoveOn.org is asking tens of thousands of people to drop by their Representative’s district office on Tuesday, July 26, at noon local time. You can tell your Representative’s that they need to protect the programs seniors rely on.

Enter your information on their website to find the office nearest you and sign up. They’ll send you details and signs you can print out and bring with you.

Wednesday, July 27th: AARP is leading a national call-in day this Wednesday, July 27, and they need your help to make sure that every member of Congress’ phone is ringing off the hook with one clear message: NO deal that would cut Medicare and Social Security benefits.   Schedule your call today, so they’ll know they can count on you this Wednesday.

The Medicare benefit cuts on the table could force seniors to pay thousands more for health care. The cuts to Social Security would reduce their monthly benefit check and cost seniors thousands of dollars more over their lifetime.

But there’s still time to raise your voice against these cuts – and it’s more important than ever to show Congress you’re paying attention. Sign up for a time today , and AARP will send you a reminder on Wednesday with all the information you need to make your call.

Thank you for committing to make your voice heard in these critical last few days.

July 14, 2011

◊ Bob’s Garden Featured in Oregon Live Video

Filed under: Personal Advocate,Special Events & Projects — Mark @ 7:20 pm

Our Encore Action Team on Hidden Hunger: Food Insecurities Among Our Elders have completed our arc of service learning projects to highten the awareness of senior hunger in our community and what efforts are being done to alleviate the situation.  Over the last two months, we have attended the Portland Food Summit, worked the kitchen at Loaves & Fishes,  served meals at Neighborhood House, and gleaned the Hollywood Farmers Market to provide fresh, organic to seniors at the Hollywood Senior Center.  By far our favorite project was Bob’s Garden.

Bob’s Garden brought together a varied group of volunteers and community partners tackle the issues of senior nutrition and isolation.  Elders in Action partnered with the Hollywood Senior Center , Multnomah County Aging & Disability Services, Portland Nursery, and Tokyo Electron Ltd. and  planted a garden to grow fresh organic produce to be used in meals and food boxes at local  senior centers this summer.

The site of the community garden is the front yard of “Bob”, an elder who loves to garden but is no longer physically able to do the intense work of urban farming.  Bob is happy to provide local gardeners a place to utilize their skills while providing nutritious food alternatives to the elder population in Multnomah County.  An important goal of Bob’s Garden is to promote intergenerational communities and to improve neighborhood socialization for older adults like Bob who want to live independently in their homes.

Today, over six million seniors nationwide face the threat of hunger; they are starving.  The number is quickly growing.  In Oregon, recent studies regarding our older adult population have found that we are 29th in the nation with over 5% of our seniors experiencing hunger.  Helping to end hunger among older adults is the first priority of Elders in Action’s Encore Action Teams.  This summer, Elders in Action and community partners will tackle the issues surrounding food insecurity for older adults in the Portland metro area with several other future projects.

For the schedule of Encore Action Team projects and to find out how you can help, call Mark Noonan at 503-235-5474, email him at mark@eldersinaction.org, or visit the Elders in Action website at www.eldersinaction.org.

July 12, 2011

◊ What Would An Elder Friendly World Be Like?

Filed under: Elder Friendly Business — Mark @ 11:24 pm

Article written by Joan Corella, Elder Friendly Program Manager at Elders in Action. It was originally published in the Retirement Connection Guide, July, 2011. Retirement Connection's mission is to provide the most comprehensive retirement resources for our local community.

What if every time you walked into a store the signs were easy to read, the aisles were open, there was a chair available just when you needed it and a staff person was there to answer your questions? What if you walked into an office and someone greeted you right away, the materials they handed you were clear, and easy to read? When you sat down to enjoy a meal at a restaurant wouldn’t it be great if you could actually read the menu without squinting through the light of a candle. This would be an Elder Friendly world and one that Elders in Action, a local nonprofit, has been working with local businesses to achieve.

Back in 1993, after feeling frustrated and “invisible” to sales people, a group of volunteers came together and decided that businesses needed to be educated on how to best serve older adults. Recognizing that this was an important area of customer service the businesses requested support. The volunteers put together a list of best practices, developed an evaluation tool, and started doing “secret shopper” evaluations at the stores. The program grew and now there are almost 300 businesses that are Elder Friendly® Certified in the Portland area.

So what do businesses learn from the evaluations? A lot! As one business commented “We thought we were doing well by our older customers – now we do better” One of the evaluators remembers a managers meeting at Les Schwab Tire Centers, “As the feedback on the evaluation was presented the managers listened, took the ideas that Elders in Action gave and started thinking of more ways they could improve their stores for older customers.”

Elder Friendly Businesses include retail stores, law offices, retirement communities, healthcare facilities, government offices, web-based businesses and service companies. Based on the feedback from Elder Friendly® volunteers, some have added chairs, installed lever handles on doors to enable easier door opening, updated phone messages to improve clarity, improved signage to make information clearer and changed website colors so people can clearly read the text.

The Elder Friendly® program is about education, partnership and continuous improvement. Now when you see the Elder Friendly® Business certification logo on the door of a business you know you are walking into a business that cares about the older adults in the community. Elder Friendly® is customer friendly – it is a win win for everyone!

The Elder Friendly® Business Certification program is part of Elders in Action a local nonprofit working to assure a vibrant community through the active involvement of older adults in the greater Portland area. Elders in Action provides free personalized assistance to people 60 and older with problems related to housing, healthcare, crime or abuse and engages people in meaningful volunteer opportunities.

For more information about the program contact Elders in Action 503.2345.5474 or info@eldersinaction.org

July 1, 2011

◊ NEW Online Searchable Elder Friendly® Business Directory

Filed under: Elder Friendly Business — Mark @ 4:42 pm
Looking At Computer

Take a moment to check out our

NEW Online Searchable Elder Friendly® Business Directory

At Elders in Action we are constantly looking for better ways to spread the word about the amazing businesses who have achieved  Elder Friendly® certified status.
A new feature we have on our website is an on-line, searchable directory that lists all of the local certified businesses. You can now search by industry, zip code, county and other convenient ways. These businesses take their customer service seriously and they want to better serve a aging population. Interested in becoming an Elder Friendly Certified Business?  Click here to get valuable information about how best to serve the fastest growing market in the U.S.

When an older consumer sees an Elder Friendly® Certified decal they know they are working with a business that cares!
Elder Friendly
There are over 260 local businesses who are certified as Elder Friendly® .
A few recent ones are:

Terwilliger Plaza

Creekside Woods

Clean Sweep

The Hazelwood

Providence Hospital

 

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