It Takes a Village
It takes a Village to raise a child, AND it takes a Village to care for our elders—so reasoned Susan McWhinney-Morse when she and a group of long-time neighbors in a downtown Boston neighborhood decided they wanted to remain in their own homes and in the neighborhood they loved as they aged, but realized they needed support. Together they created a non-profit organization in 2001, Beacon Hill Village, designed to help older adults stay in their own homes and stay connected to their community. Residents pay $600 a year for an individual or $850 for a couple join; those of modest means can join for a discounted rate.
Membership has multiple benefits, but the centerpiece of the Village plan is a “one call does it all” concierge service that helps residents quickly and safely find the support they want or need. Free services to resident members include transportation to and from the hospital; an advocate who will accompany the senior to medical appointments; someone to drive a member to the bank, the beauty parlor, church; group exercise classes; lectures on issues related to aging and people who will drop by for a visit. Other services such as home maintenance and repair and in-home health care are provided to members from vetted providers, often at a discounted rate.
Beacon Hill Village also provides residents with a number of activities to promote health and wellness among members and social activities to foster friendship and neighborliness. The model is taking off – the office has fielded hundreds of calls to replicate the model and their website now boasts 19 affiliate Villages around the country, with many more unaffiliated groups in formation.
Is there a Village model in your neighborhood?