STEP, Inc. looking at increasing some services
MUNCY- After visiting most of the area’s senior centers for input, the Office of Aging from STEP Inc. announced that it may be raising some of the fees for its services. Discussions during open public meetings were exchanged with Office of Aging director, Fred Shrimp from STEP who informed them that their mission is to keep seniors in their home for as long as possible. “We are a pathway of independent living,” he said. “Whatever services can be provided in the home will absolutely be a priority.”
The STEP Office of Aging will help seniors apply for low income subsidies if they qualify. Those who are single earning less than $1354 a month are eligible as well as married couples who earn less then $25,010 a year.
Shrimp also explained the new regulations from the Dept. of Public Welfare (Act 22) regarding the Aging Waiver program. Using state funds this program provides in home services instead of forcing seniors into nursing homes. “A waiver is needed to use nursing home money for in-home services.” Currently there are 115 people using this program. Such services could include personal care, in-home services such as housekeeping, laundry, shopping and bathing. The Office of Aging assists with matching services from available community programs. “We have waiting lists right now with about 60 on the list for home support, that is, cleaning or housekeeping needs.” Everything is prioritized by need through evaluations and assessments. There is also a waiting list for the family care giver’s support program for reimbursement costs.
“The senior centers are another service to keep independence,” informed Shrimp. “It is the real focus of our program.” He further explained how the program supplies diversified services for its seniors, especially in Muncy through the YMCA where seniors can take Tai-Chi classes and participate in Silver Sneakers.
The health and well being for all seniors is important to the agency. Good nutrition and socialization have been proven to be solid factors to slow down aging. “More evening exercise activities and programs are in the works for seniors,” he added.
Sometimes a 70 year old will need to go back to work for more financial support. There are budget issues to deal with and some of the senior centers had to be closed such as the one on Maynard Street to reduce costs. Often reducing the Meals on Wheels to one a week comes up for discussion, but the Advisory Board would rather communicate new ideas and planning issues. “It costs $75,000 a year to reimburse mileage to deliver meals on wheels,” Shrimp said. “The home visits prove to be invaluable, checking on those who are sick.” He related a time when one man had fallen and couldn’t get up until the person came from Meals on Wheels to help him.
“I really appreciate the program,” said Madeleine Minier who recently recovered from a heart attack. “This program works for seniors. I was able to avoid the nursing home, and come to the Muncy senior center instead. It really has helped.”
Other funds and services may be decreased. Fare increases for STEP’s transportation services will go into effect June 1, but it will only be a nominal increase (about 15 cents a ride.) This program is mostly run through the lottery program which was introduced in 1982 with PennDot for the shared ride program. Shrimp said that the shared ride program pays 15 percent of the costs. For the past 20 years it ran 24/7, but now it will only run Mondays through Fridays 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. PennDot was recently authorized a reimbursement increase from $16.60 per ride to $20 per ride for the general public.
“It is important to let your legislators know what your needs are and what your priorities are, ” Shrimp informed the seniors. “The public has to tell the state and elected officials what you want.” He gave out a toll free AARP hotline number to call 1-800-515-8134 for better advocacy.