Four senior centers achieve National Accreditation in December

Congratulations to the four senior centers that achieved National Senior Center Accreditation on December 29, 2016! The Passmore Center and the Seymour Center, both from Orange Park County, NC, achieved their first accreditations. Palatine Township Senior Center, Palatine Township, IL, achieved its third accreditation and Rufty-Holmes Senior Center, Salisbury, NC, achieved its fourth accreditation.

Orange County Department on Aging, NC offers integrated aging services and programs at our two senior center locations, the Passmore Center and Seymour Center. It is is a one-stop resource where older adults and caregivers can meet their social, mental, physical, financial and day-to-day practical needs.

Multi-site senior centers often share common assets and resources. The peer reviewer found that both the Passmore Center and Seymour Center had the following strengths:

  • The welcoming spirit among senior center participants towards new people coming to the center, which is reflective of the warm and engaging staff.
  • Strategic planning process which results in the Master Aging Plan for the county. It is a very inclusive process with a thorough analysis of community needs
  • Substantive community partnership bringing diverse services into each senior center and out to the community
  • The Aging Transition program which features social workers fluent in Mandarin and Spanish, transportation, and caregiving and provides a separate hotline for Mandarin and Spanish.
  • Volunteer Connection, the volunteer program, has successfully evolved from an RSVP model into a model that is more adaptive to the needs of each senior center.
  • Project EngAGE which is a senior leadership program with self-directed teams addressing community issues.
  • The depth of experience and knowledge among the staff that is very creative in developing new, model programs to address the needs of their community.

Passmore Center

Passmore Center is one of two senior centers operated by Orange County Department of Aging. It’s located in Hillsborough, NC in a rural area of the county about 10 miles north of Chapel Hill. Hillsborough has a population of 6388.

Passmore Center was first established approximately 30 years ago. It was one of the first senior centers created when the Orange County Department of Aging was formed in 1980. The Passmore Center’s current facility was constructed in 2009 and welcomes approximately 200 people per day.

The senior center attracts county participants who live in more rural and remote areas. Many participants drive 10 to 15 plus miles to reach the senior center. There is bus transportation available to the senior center, which is provided by Orange County. The senior center does not provide transportation. The senior center provides congregate meals (lunch) daily to approximately 40 people per day on average.

Passmore Center is co-located in a building which also houses the Orange County Sports Complex, where their doors are only feet apart. The two organizations work in partnership. The Orange County Sports Complex features indoor, heated pools, a fitness center with an extensive selection of cardio and weight equipment, an ice-skating ring, and exercise classes. In order for an older adult to receive the senior discount on the annual membership fee, they must first participate in a fitness screening and register at the senior center. This unique partnership has helped to introduce the senior center to older adults in the community who would not have visited the center otherwise.

Additional strengths noted by the reviewer included:

  • The senior center facility encourages socialization and allows for multiple programs to occur comfortably at the same time.
  • Co-location and partnership with the Orange County Sports Complex

Seymour Center

Seymour Center is second senior center operated by Orange County Department of Aging. It’s located in Chapel Hill, NC. When the Orange County Department on Aging opened in 1980, they originally created three senior centers in the Chapel Hill area: one in Chapel Hill, one in the Northside Community, and one in Carrboro. These communities are all urban and located within miles of each other. The now Seymour Center represents a merging of those three centers into one larger, multi-purpose senior center.

The current location opened in 2007 and is a well-designed facility to meet the needs of the diverse programs and services offered. The center primarily serves Chapel Hill and Carrboro which has a combined population of approximately 80,000; however participants come from other areas of the county as well. The center welcomes approximately 450 people per day.

There are multiple transportation options to the senior center. The senior center does not provide transportation. The senior center provides congregate meals (lunch) daily to approximately 75 people per day on average.

The center offers a wide variety of programs during day, evening, and weekend hours. Classes include exercise and fitness classes for multiple levels of fitness, art and craft classes, lectures, health classes, support groups, and much more. The center offers a respite program for family caregivers and provides stimulating and engaging programs for those experiencing cognitive decline. Department on Aging staff is experienced and knowledgeable in creating programs to meet the needs of their community, such as developing a brain health academy that was presented at a senior housing complex. The center offers programs in Mandarin and does an excellent job of providing diverse programming to meet the diversity of its population.

Additional strengths noted by the reviewer included:

  • The senior center facility is attractive and encourages socialization within the building and on the grounds
  • The cultural sensitivity to the diversity among their participants including the many ways that the center has accommodated such a large Mandarin-speaking customer base.

Palatine Township Senior Center

Palatine Township Senior Center, located in Palatine, IL, is operated by a private, not-for-profit organization, the Palatine Township Senior Citizens Council (PTSCC). The Township of Palatine is found in northwest Cook County within the Chicago area. While Palatine Township is the same geographic size as most townships in Illinois, 36 square miles, it is among the most heavily populated with 113,000 residents.

The Palatine Township Senior Center is a stand-alone two floor facility that has approximately 18,000 square feet of usable space and is fully accessible with ramping and an elevator. It offers a wide range of services including recreation, lifelong learning, health and wellness, nutrition and social services. These services are available in English, Spanish and Russian. They offer bilingual, bicultural staff and provide conversation, cultural adaption and citizenship classes.

The senior center offers a Trip and Travel program, lifelong learning education, health and fitness classes, Tai Chi, line dancing, chair yoga, Sit and Be Fit, Laughter Yoga, Drum Circle, “Our Place” Café, a caregivers support group, social services, reservations for massage and facials and many fun fundraisers. They also operate an Adult Day Program for those with mild to moderate memory loss.

During the last fiscal year, the center served 2,873 unduplicated clients. They have 470 members, although you do not have to be a member to receive services or participate in activities. The average daily attendance is 100.

This was the center’s third accreditation The Peer Reviewer observed many strengths of the Palatine Township Senior Center. These included:

  • A good building that is cared for and in a great location which has excellent visibility in the community.
  • A well balanced, involved Board of Directors who are committed to the mission of the center.
  • A very experienced, dedicated staff with good ideas for programming and collaborations.
  • An amazing exemplary program for limited and non-English speaking seniors that is outreach focused and incredibly creative both in programming and as a service delivery model.
  • A Social Model Adult Day program for persons with memory impairment that is a great mix of inclusion and separate programming with a very creative, dedicated group of staff and volunteers
  • Extensive community connections and collaborations. It is apparent that a lot effort has been placed by the staff to look for every opportunity to partner to bring new and improved services.
  • A very active volunteer program and strong staff commitment to volunteers.
  • A great Annual Report.
  • A diverse funding base and excellent fund development programs.

Rufty-Holmes Senior Center

The Henry E. Rufty–Haden C. Holmes Senior Center known as the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is located in Salisbury, NC with a population of 33,000. It is the county seat of Rowan County which has a population of 138,425.

There is no membership or joining fees but participants are encouraged to support the Center’s Annual Fund Campaign with tax deductible donations. Participation is available to those who live in the county and are 55 years of age or older. There are 9,000 individuals enrolled in the Center. During the last fiscal year, 4,797 unduplicated older adults were served and an average of 380 persons attended each day.

The Senior Center is a one-story building that has been added to over time. It initially was a 10,000 square foot facility and has expanded to 20,000 today. Two highlights of the facility are: (1) the fitness center which includes cardio and weight machines with space for exercise classes and (2) the aquatics center which includes a small fitness pool that can accommodate about 10 people comfortably and a smaller spa pool/Jacuzzi-style pool which can accommodate up to two people. There is also a small café and several other rooms for programs. Take a virtual tour of the center.

The senior center has a diverse offering of programs, educational programs, art classes, support groups and extensive health and fitness programs; the aquatics program is especially impressive with the fitness pool. There is a large number of clubs and community organizations that operate from the senior center, but carry out their programs and services in the community,

The senior center provides congregate lunchtime meals at off-site locations, trips, information and assistance, SHIP counseling, tax aid, employment assistance, home modification and repairs and has developed the Ambassadors Club, the Center’s core volunteer organization. View personal observations from participants.

This was the center’s fourth accreditation The Peer Reviewer observed many strengths of the Rufty-Holmes Senior Center. These included:

  • Strategic planning process is extremely thorough and widely shared allowing opportunities for older adults and the community to provide input throughout the process and review the final plan before it’s adopted. View Strategic Overview.
  • Community Resource Connections allows the senior center to network and connect with other organization support older adults
  • The succession plan is a model plan and should be used by other senior centers.
  • High level of transparency within senior center operations with information readily available in multiple places.
  • Recognition of donors, volunteers, business partners, and sponsors is very visible and listed in multiple places
  • The Ambassadors Club allows center participants to have a high level of ownership of the senior center and promotes a positive relationship with staff
  • The increasing attention on outcomes data with more programs have pre and post tests conducted.

Whether you are trying to achieve accreditation for the first time, or third or fourth, follow the example of these centers that have incorporated accreditation as part of their strategic planning process. Educate a core community group on the benefits of your center while strengthening the Center’s administration. Position your senior center for success in your community through the NISC National Senior Center Accreditation process. Visit www.ncoa.org/national-institute-of-senior-centers/standards-accreditation to learn more.