Senior citizen advocate efforts explained to elected officials

Caswell Family Medical Center board member Sylvia Banks came before the Caswell County Commissioners earlier this month to discuss activities to promote the aging population of Caswell County. Banks also works with the North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature, which works on the state level to increase funding for aging initiatives and programs.

Sylvia Banks, a board member of the Caswell Family Medical Center, came before the Caswell County Commissioners in early November to discuss ways in which her organization is working on behalf of older adults in the county. Banks also works with the North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature, and provided the Commissioners with details on that organization’s work. 

“Working together, we represent Caswell County at the state level,” Banks explained. “Created by the North Carolina General Assembly 25 years ago, the North Carolina Senior Tar Heel Legislature’s role is to report and make recommendations to the North Carolina General Assembly. Each of the 100 counties in North Carolina are allowed representation.” 

Banks indicated that the N.C. Senior Tar Heel Legislature promotes citizen involvement and advocacy for aging issues before the NCGA, as well as access to legislative needs of older adults 

Priorities for the current legislative agenda include increased funding for the home and community care block grant. 

“The Senior Tar Heel Legislature requests the General Assembly increase the community care block grant by $7 million in recurring funds,” Banks said. “To maintain and increase funding for the Senior Center. We request the General Assembly maintain the current general purpose funding, and increase this funding by a recurring $350,000 to continue to meet the vital needs of North Carolina’s growing population of older adults.” 

Banks mentioned that the Senior Tar Heel Legislature wishes to increase funding for Project CARE. Project CARE is “Caregiver Alternatives to Running on Empty. 

“We are recommending to NCGA to increase funding for this project in 2019 and 2020 by $50,000,” Banks said. “And in future years, increase funding by 10 percent annually for expected growth. 

The Senior Tar Heel Legislature also seeks to strengthen and fund North Carolina Adult Protective Services, recommending the NCGA honor and recognize its older citizens by making available $7 million in recurring funds to meet the growing needs for adult protective services across North Carolina. 

“We wish to conduct a comprehensive evaluation/review of these services to ensure this protection is adequate,” Banks said. “We are recommending NCGA enact legislature to establish a mandatory standard policy for staff/patient ratio for direct services in nursing homes.” 

The Caswell County Adult Advisory Council - formerly known as Planning Committee - works to ensure that local adult homes and nursing homes are property equipped and handling the needs of those residents in their care. 

“The Commissioners allowed the restructuring of two committees, working separately, to serve the citizens of Caswell County. Within the restructuring, the two committees now work collectively,” Banks said. “The council celebrated its one year anniversary in June. The council continues to meet and discuss local issues impacting older adults in Caswell County.” 

Caswell County receives tremendous support from a variety of community partners, including the County Commissioners, Sheriffs Dept., Caswell County Medical Center, State Employees Credit Union, VFW Post 7316, Alzheimers Association, Dept of Social Services, Caswell Senior Center, Bryan Center, Town of Yanceyville and Mayor Alvin Foster, Primary Home Health, Caswell County Collaborative, Caswell Chamber of Commerce, Caswell Parish, Caswell House, among others. 

“When the council meets in the different townships, the focus is that the community citizens will participate in a planning discussion. This feedback will help shape the county’s aging plan that is currently under development,” Banks explained. Caswell is an aging county with needs. Thank you, Commissioner (Nathaniel) Hall, for working with the Piedmont Triad Regional Council.” 

The next meeting for the Caswell County Adult Advisory Council will be Nov. 28 at the Caswell County Senior Center at 9:30 a.m.. The next session for the Tar Heel Senior Legislature will be March 12-13 at the North Carolina Rural Center in Raleigh. 

“I want to commend you,” Commissioner David Owen said to Banks after she concluded her presentation. “As I get into that age bracket. Thank you for the work that you do for the citizens of Caswell County - especially our seniors. We are an aging population. Especially in Caswell County.” 

Owen requested that the advisory committee notify the County Commissioners of its community meetings, so that some of the Commissioners could potentially attend and show support for their efforts.