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Washtenaw County has a long history of collaboration among agencies serving the elderly, strengthened by the funding resources of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation (AAACF) and other local funders. The county's total population and aging population has grown rapidly, outpacing the growth of the state of Michigan as a whole. The group most in need of long-term care services, those over age 85, has grown by more than 36 percent. But other social issues such as the concerns of children, the homeless, and the uninsured have overshadowed those needs. Michigan was late in developing the Medicaid waiver program and economic problems have reduced this option to an insignificant resource in recent years. The rapid proliferation of for-profit assisted living and home care agencies expanded the number of services available to those with financial means, but the lack of affordable options for long-term care and supportive services became a major issue of concern for non-profit agencies serving the elderly.

Early Initiative

An early initiative for systems change began in 1998 when six agencies serving the elderly joined forces to create an unmet needs fund which could quickly provide assistance to individuals to pay for medications, in-home care, utilities bills, and other emergency needs. The partnership approached the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation to fund this effort as an on-going program, a departure from their usual one-year competitive funding process. This fund is currently administered by Washtenaw County's Barrier Busters program and continues to provide quick assistance to hundreds of seniors effectively and efficiently.

Partnership Formed

In 2001, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Community Partnership proposal provided a catalyst for a core group of fifteen organizations, to form the Blueprint for Aging Services Partnership (BASP). Although the proposal was not funded, the energy created by coming together to write the proposal, inspired the group to continue its efforts to create a collaborative plan to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding senior population and their caregivers. BASP obtained funding to support a coordinator to facilitate development of the plan to identify current gaps in service and create a future vision for meeting the needs of the elderly, emphasizing long term care system change.

More than 40 community agencies and 70 individuals participated in this effort over the past two years. Through publicity and direct solicitation, older adults, community leaders, professionals, and family caregivers participated in the project. Several large community meetings led to the creation of a core leadership team and five workgroups. This core leadership team established guidelines and coordinated the project. Catholic Social Services served as the fiduciary and lead administrative agency. Other core leadership members represented: Area Agency on Aging 1-B, HelpSource, Housing Bureau for Seniors, Neighborhood Senior Services, University of Michigan Turner Geriatric Clinic, and Washtenaw County Health Organization-Community Support and Treatment Services. The five workgroups were Health, Housing, Quality of Life, Social Services and Transportation. These diverse community representatives participated in lively discussions in the workgroups, meeting at least monthly, and invited other professionals and consumers to present information and ideas. This cumulative effort produced a 150-page consensus report, a vision for the future.

Blueprint for Aging Receives National Funding for Planning

The content of this report provided the groundwork for a proposal submitted to the Community Partnerships for Older Adults Program (CPFOA) of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2004. This proposal was granted, and Blueprint for Aging (formerly the Blueprint for Aging Services Partnership) became one of few select projects across the country to receive an 18-month strategic planning grant and the opportunity to re-apply for a $750,000 implementation grant.


Blueprint for Aging Receives National Funding to Implement Plans

In May, 2006, the Blueprint for Aging was awarded this $750,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Community Partnershipsfor Older Adults Program (CPFOA) to improve long term care and supportive services for at risk older adults in Washtenaw County by implementing plans developed over the 18-month period. The four-year implementation grant was awarded to only sixteen projects across the country.

The project provides a structure for:

  • Bringing greater visibility to the priorities, concerns, and experiences of seniors; 

  • Providing seniors with meaningful ways to affect decisions about community issues that ultimately impact their lives;

  • Developing improved technology to streamline service delivery;

  • Testing innovative pilot programs in caregiving support, transportation and improved access to needed help;

  • Building a community that is prepared to meet the challenges and opportunities of the county’s rapidly growing older adult population.

Click here to read the Blueprint for Aging's Executive Summary

Click here to view a one-page document outlining the Blueprint's four Strategic Initiatives



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© 2008 Blueprint for Aging
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