Sussex County committee discusses services for the elderly

The Sussex County Advisory Committee on Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities met this week and provided to those in attendance a brief update as to what services a number of area organizations provide.

Christine Santy, COP case manager for Easter Seals, noted that the nonprofit organization provides services to help children and adults with disabilities and/or special needs, as well as support to their families.

Santy said she also hopes to provide resources to people who are caregivers, no matter what kind of resources they’re looking for.

Easter Seals offers a respite program, in which eligible participants are able to receive $250, and up to $500 for those with dementia, through the Delaware Lifespan grant. Santy said that, while the application is online, she would gladly help anyone apply.

Jamie Magee, Sussex County branch coordinator for the Delaware Valley Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, said they offer a similar respite grant, through which caregivers may receive up to $500. She noted that it is means-based.

Linda Forte, community relations coordinator for Easter Seals, said their adult day program has grown over the years, and recently, the Georgetown location added an adult memory program.

“With this kind of care and attention specifically, they’re responding,” she said. “It’s awesome. If anyone ever wants to see it, come down. It continues to grow.”

Magee said that, three years ago, a Memory Café was created at the Ocean View Coastal CHEER center, for Alzheimer’s patients and their care partners; however, all the participants have since passed away.

She said that if anyone with dementia or their care partner is interested in finding a support group to contact her, so the program can start up again.

For those looking to have better communication with dementia patients, Magee said there is a free program, “Effective Communication Strategies,” at Brandywine Living at Fenwick Island on Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.

Anthony DelFranco of CHEER said his organization has partnered with La Red to provide a skilled medical person at four different centers — Long Neck, Ocean View, Milton and Greenwood.

“It will be a paid position, a registered nurse,” said DelFranco, noting that, while the schedule has yet to be finalized, they hope to begin offering the service in March.

A medical professional, he said, will be at each of those facilities one day each a week.

Barbie McDaniel of Delaware Hospice told the group that they are still the only non-profit hospice in the state.

“Regardless of family or patients’ ability to pay, we care for them the same way we would for anyone else.”

McDaniel said they are seeing an increase in the number of people who don’t have insurance. She added that Delaware Hospice offers a number of free programs.

“Our Transitions program is a free, non-clinical program for anyone who has a serious illness and needs to get connected with people like Easter Seals, or the Alzheimer’s Association, or go to an adult daycare. There are so many resources in our community that patients and families don’t realize they have at their disposal. … So our Transitions coordinator for Sussex meets with families, finds out what their needs are.”

Delaware Hospice now offers a palliative program, for patients still seeking treatment but who are in and out of the hospital. Partnering with doctors in the community, nurse practitioners can do home visits and will then report back to the doctor and give recommendations.

“We collaborate and find a good care plan for that patient. We also have a social worker attached with that so they can start talking about advance healthcare directives and planning for what’s coming next… Just provide a lot of support.”

McDaniel said Delaware Hospice is one of three hospices in the country to offer palliative care in the home. Delaware Hospice also offers child bereavement programs and adult bereavement programs.

“We’re all going to need hospice care in our life, so the more we can educate the community, the better off we’re going to be.”

The next Sussex County Advisory Committee on Aging & Adults with Physical Disabilities will be held Monday, March 20, at 10 a.m. at the Greenwood CHEER Center.

“Totally open to the public, and we encourage you to come,” said Committee Chairperson Ruth Beideman. “We also want to know about your concerns and needs.”

Delaware Health & Social Services’ “Guide to Services” can be found online at