Inside The Senior Alliance: The Advisory Council (Ep. 1.10)
Host Jason Maciejewski is joined in Episode 10 of “Inside the Senior Alliance” by Dr. Denise Brothers, who is Chair of the Senior Alliance’s Advisory Council and a professor at Madonna University. Dr. Brothers explains the role of the Advisory Council and just exactly what it is that they do to advocate for aging adults in Wayne County.
Jason Maciejewski (00:00):
Welcome to episode 10 of Inside The Senior Alliance, a podcast exploring resources in the field of aging. I’m Jason Maciejewski, deputy executive director of The Senior Alliance, The Area Agency on Aging, serving Western and Southern Wayne county. Today I’m joined by Denise Brothers, who’s the chair of our advisory council and a professor at Madonna University. Dr. Brothers, welcome to Inside The Senior Alliance.
Denise Brothers (00:22):
Thank you for having me, Jason.
Jason Maciejewski (00:24):
Great. Thanks for taking the time to be with us today. The Advisory Council is the one body the Older Americans Act states that an area agency on aging must have. So Denise, what role does The Advisory Council play at The Senior Alliance?
Denise Brothers (00:38):
The Advisory Counsel has two different charges. The first one is we contribute to the development of the annual implementation plan. We also review the draft and we make a recommendation to approve the report to the board of directors. Secondly, we play a role in advocating on both state and federal legislation and policies that impact older adults.
Jason Maciejewski (00:58):
Great. So the annual implementation plan is our agency’s plan for the activities we’re going to undertake with our federal and state funding. It outlines our goals and objectives for foundational programs and services like meals on wheels, care management, transportation, information, and assistance, legal services, and others. How does The Advisory Council aid with that?
Denise Brothers (01:18):
The Advisory Council helps develop the annual input survey. We also distribute the input surveys and we also can have a role of forming focus groups to get input on the feedback from the survey. We review the draft of the AIP, will host a public hearing to get feedback on the actual plan itself, and then we give final recommendations for approval to our board of directors. And then throughout the year, we monitor our progress on the goals and objectives in the plan.
Jason Maciejewski (01:48):
So The Advisory Council is pretty involved in making sure the plan is developed, created, and then followed up on through the course of the year.
The other major role of The Advisory Council, as you mentioned is advocacy. So what does that involvement like?
Denise Brothers (02:03):
We receive advocacy updates at each of The Advisory Council meetings. There’s also a monthly newsletter that goes out that we review. And in terms of action, the members often send an email or make a call to a legislator to advocate on a particular bill or a budget item. And really the degree to which a member gets involved and advocacy is up to them. For example, we have one member who has joined the Michigan Senior Advocates Council and is really helping to make a difference.
Jason Maciejewski (02:33):
So, in addition to the annual implementation plan process and work on advocacy, sometimes The Advisory Council gets involved with special projects as well.
Denise Brothers (02:43):
That’s correct. The Advisory Council quite a few years ago, maybe about six years ago, we were involved with a care transitions research project. And then recently we are playing a role in compiling a literature review for a grant application and pilot project that The Senior Alliance is undertaking on addressing loneliness and social isolation of older adults.
Jason Maciejewski (03:05):
And I know that work, that The Advisory Council does is really beneficial to The Agency as well. One of the ways that you have aided The Senior Alliance as an advisory council member is by taking a step of engaging with some senior centers. Could you tell us about that?
Denise Brothers (03:19):
Yeah. In my role as a professor, I teach a course that covers the programs and services that are available for older adults. And one year when I taught it, I had the students take the annual implementation plan survey, make appointments with the senior centers, and go out and survey the members at the senior centers to get their feedback on what services that they are currently using, see themselves using, that sort of thing.
Jason Maciejewski (03:49):
Right. I know that input is really critical to the development of our annual implementation plan. Could you tell me about the makeup of The Advisory Council itself? How many members are there?
Denise Brothers (03:58):
Well, currently we have 16 members and we’re also looking to add several more. We need to have half of those members need to be 60 years of age or older. And actually the group is comprised of various people. We have individuals that are working actually in aging services. We have those who are working in academia, such as myself. We have those who are caregivers, and actual older adults themselves are part of The Advisory Council.
Jason Maciejewski (04:26):
It’s a pretty diverse group of people that work in the aging space that comprise our Advisory Council, really dynamic group of people. How often do they meet?
Denise Brothers (04:35):
The Advisory Council meets six to seven times a year. Usually it’s from September to June. Our meetings run from 9:30 to 11:00 AM on the second Mondays of the months in which we meet.
Jason Maciejewski (04:51):
And how could someone go about joining The Advisory Council?
Denise Brothers (04:53):
We are always looking for members. So, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can call (734) 727-2058. You’ll be asked to fill out a basic application form. And then what happens after that, the applications are reviewed by The Advisory Council who then makes recommendations for approval by the board of directors.
Jason Maciejewski (05:18):
And is there anything else you’d like to add about The Advisory Council.
Denise Brothers (05:22):
Yeah, I really value being a member. I appreciate being kept up to date on the types of services and programs that are in demand. And I also like being able to affect change when it comes to legislation or policies that impact our fast growing older population.
Jason Maciejewski (05:36):
Denise, thanks for joining me today on the podcast.
Denise Brothers (05:39):
You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Jason Maciejewski (05:41):
If anyone has questions about services or programs The Senior Alliance offers, you can call us at +1 800-815-1112, or email us at email@example.com. Information about our agency or the programs and services we offer can be found on our website at www.thesenioralliance.org, on Facebook, we can be located by searching for The Senior Alliance. Finally, our Twitter handle is @AAA1C. I’m Jason Maciejewski. Thank you for listening to this episode of Inside The Senior Alliance.
Speaker 3 (06:15):
Inside The Senior Alliance is a production of The Senior Alliance and Blazing Kiss Media.