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Kern County hopes to help aging and disabled communities with new program

Posted at 3:47 PM, Jan 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-18 00:43:13-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Kern County has one of the nine newest aging and disability connection programs across the state, and those leading the effort locally hope this helps bring faster help to those who need it.

The program is a partnership between the Independent Living Center of Kern County and the Kern County Aging and Adult Services.

Jimmie Soto, Executive Director of Independent Living Center of Kern County, said, “Okay well, you call this agency for food, you call this agency for housing, you call this agency for counseling services, and you call this agency for healthcare services.”

That is what most elders, and those with disabilities, in our county have to deal with to access help. Something Soto said has probably discouraged people who really need the help from getting any.

In Kern County, among the 900,000 residents, about eight percent of them are those under the age of 65 with a disability, and about 11 percent of the population is over the age of 65. Meaning about 19 percent of Kern County residents could use these services but have to deal with a lot of “red tape.”

“So instead of having them call five different places, or three or whatever, the intent is for them to call one place. We gather everything they need, and then the aging and disability resource connection will start calling these other partners to get resources in place."

Before this program, there has been a lot of overlap in the services they provide, and the people they help, creating that back-and-forth confusion for clients.

“Some people with disabilities may have that problem of being able to say everything that happened, so that ability of constantly having to repeat things, go back to it, it creates a lot more distrust of systems,” said Jeremy Oliver, Program Director at Kern County Aging and Adult Services.

Oliver explained that the program revolves around a new software that essentially created one database that these organizations can use, and then they do the calling for the patient and follow up.

“We get the information and probably by the next day we will have a call to that other person to make sure services are being picked up.”

They are also working to further expand to other organizations that offer health services to these communities.