Friday, April 30, 2010
Carlton Willard At Home program lets satisfied seniors stay put
Janet Lovejoy has lived in her home on West Street since 1962. The 79-year old Lovejoy had plans to move out of her house and into an extended care facility, but she was worried about her Golden Retriever, Carlisle, who is named after Lovejoy’s hometown for the past 48 years.
“I didn’t think Carli was going to like it,” Lovejoy said. “I was all signed up. Then we went to visit the place and Carli wouldn’t even look at it. That’s when I knew it wasn’t for me. I decided, why leave here? I heard about Carlton Willard At Home at an event at Town Hall and I joined as insurance. I was one of the founding members. I live in an old house and that’s the one thing I was a little nervous about. With Carlton Willard At Home, when you get to the point where you need help, there’ll be someone to help you.”
Carlton Willard At Home is a non-profit outreach division of Carlton Willard Village, a continuing care retirement community in Bedford, Massachusetts. The organization serves adults 65 and older living in Bedford, Carlisle, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln.
The new program opened its doors in September 2009 and now has 85 members who support the notion of “aging in place.” The average subscriber age is 79½ years old, with the youngest being 67 and the oldest 96.
“The idea is to take care of anything you can think of that will allow seniors to stay in their homes and in their communities,” Paula von Kleydorff, a Carlisle resident and Program Director at Carlton Willard At Home, explained.
For an annual membership fee ($600 for an individual and $850 for a couple), Carlton Willard At Home provides access to a network of services that includes transportation, a pool of vetted service providers, exercise and fitness options, social and cultural activities and volunteer opportunities.
“Eventually, we would like to have something like 300 members,” von Kleydorff said. “But we’re not looking to grow rapidly. We want to make sure that the program is run well and that we are providing the very best service that we can.”
“Our experience with Carlton Willard At Home has been wonderful,” said Helen Young, who is a member with her husband, Bev. “We knew we had a need for occasional transportation since I’m the only driver.”
Mike Rader provides transportation in Carlton Willard At Home’s white Toyota Scion, which seats three comfortably. “We chose the Scion because it’s easy to get in and out of. It’s fairly low to the ground and has big back doors,” von Kleydorff said.
Young is positive about the transportation service. “They’ve driven us to the airport several times and picked up Bev from the train station,” she said. “The driver is very, very reliable and is just as nice as he can be.”
The Carlton Willard At Home membership fee includes a weekly trip to a grocery store and trips to medical appointments for people whose doctors have advised them not to drive. Rader is also available for discretionary trips for a fee of $2 a mile. “Their fee is much more reasonable than a limo,” Young said.
The services Carlton Willard At Home is providing are as varied as its membership. They drive a Lincoln resident with an oxygen tank to the grocery store once a week and afterward help bring the sacks of groceries inside. They cleaned the chicken coop for a couple in Concord with 100 chickens and arranged for snow plowing for another Concord resident with 35 steep steps that are now shoveled by hand.
Carlton Willard At Home offers “One Call,” with one phone number to call for assistance or for help in coordinating services. Long-time Carlisle resident Chris Fielding provides the 24-hour phone assistance. There are currently 50 pre-screened service providers who can be dispatched to assist members. Most offer 10-20% discounts for Carlton Willard At Home subscribers.
Carlisle has the smallest number of subscribers in the group of towns that Carlton Willard At Home services with six members. “Each of our communities is unique,” von Kleydorff said. “In Carlisle, people are incredibly self-sufficient.”
For the most part the Carlisle members “don’t need much from us at the moment. They want the security of knowing that if something goes wrong, they have someone to contact,” she said.
“We mainly joined as an insurance against when we might need help in the future,” Young said. Lovejoy agreed, “They have a wonderful line-up of service people, like plumbers and lawn cutters but they’re not things that I need at this stage.”
Carlton Willard At Home offers members-only activities that enable people with similar interests to connect. Recent and upcoming cultural events include trips to the Lexington Symphony, the Merrimack Repertory Theatre, the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, the Boston Flower and Garden Show and the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Youngs attended a members-only brunch recently at Serafina’s restaurant in Concord and said that they enjoy meeting new people and reconnecting with others at Carlton Willard At Home social gatherings. “We discovered that one of our neighbors from just down the street was a Carlton Willard At Home member. We enjoyed the chance to get to know him better,” Young said.
“Our geographical area is quite large and each community is somewhat independent of each other,” von Kleydorff said. The services that Carlton Willard At Home offers are evolving to match the people and the individual personalities of the communities in which they live.
For example, in some communities, Carlton Willard At Home has started offering exercise classes in members’ homes, with a fitness coach, in addition to more traditional exercise class opportunities. There is a drop-in group that meets weekly for coffee in Concord and a ramble at the Cranberry Bog is planned for the walking group.
For more information about Carlton Willard At Home, call Paula von Kleydorff at 1-781-276-1910 or view their web site at www.carleton-willardathome.org. ∆
© 2010 The Carlisle Mosquito