Growth Will Lead to New Senior Services Hub in South Puget Sound
Growth in dementia-friendly services and other programs is leading our South Puget Sound (SPS) District in Tacoma to move to a new home.
“We’re starting to see new funding open up for us through two family foundations and a significant federal grant,” said Senior District Director Trudy Sorensen, who has led SPS for nearly 15 years. “This funding and our new hub will help us serve more people.”
SPS will be moving to a new home on Sixth Avenue in Tacoma in 2020 or 2021. The new Senior Services Hub will be on a bus line located near medical and other social services. It will replace the old house in the Stadium District.
“Our lovely, old house has worked really well to create a home environment for staff, but it’s challenging to serve clients in a home with four stories and no elevator,” Sorensen said. “I don’t want people limited by this office. People will be able to go in and out of the doors easier with services all on one floor in our new location.”
The hub needs to be remodeled before staff moves in. A public building campaign, “Aging with Grace,” will start later this year to pay for the remodeling and building. The house is for sale, and one foundation has already invested in the hub. It will have more functional space than the house for growing services.
A new three-year nearly $1 million federal grant to create a Dementia-Friendly Pierce County started July 1. Sorensen is working to hire a Program Director of Dementia Care Services. The goal for the grant is to reach 180 unique people each year for a total of 540 people over three years, but plans are to surpass those goals.
“The dementia-friendly grant will touch almost all of our programs,” Sorensen said. “We’ll provide dementia training for staff, volunteers and people in the community.”
A new program called Dementia Friends will be the heart of a Dementia-Friendly Pierce County. Dementia Friends is a public awareness, anti-stigma campaign focusing on people with dementia and their care partners. Dementia Friends will train individuals to talk to people in their communities about what dementia is and how to help neighbors, friends and family members with dementia.
New dementia-friendly work will include unique community partners. We will partner with Tacoma Little Theater to launch the Memory Ensemble, an improv acting group for people living with dementia and care partners. Research shows that improv acting may help slow the progression of dementia diseases, but it is primarily a way to reduce problematic behavioral symptoms and improve communication.
Another partnership will be Opening Minds Through Art, which will be an evidence-based service designed to encourage alternative forms of expression for people with dementia. Participants will be encouraged to simply have fun, which improves quality of life.
Two foundations have stepped up with funding for SPS services. The William A. Looney Family Foundation funded Santa for Seniors for three years. The work of recognizing isolated seniors is expanding to Jefferson and Clallam Counties on the Olympic Peninsula this year. The Looney Foundation has also invested in the hub, as Santa for Seniors needs additional space.
The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation of Tacoma helps SPS fund Senior Friends, Memory Cafes, Zoo Walks and Music Mends Minds. Music Mends Minds is a partnership with the Puyallup Rotary. Learn more about our work in South Puget Sound.