Long life is a new phenomenon; there is not a clear path forward. Members say – I just want the services here when I need them. While that is the essential concept of CHV, there is a steady change of people and needs both within CHV and in the larger community. To that end Capitol Hill Village must ensure ongoing services and make plans and strategies to address future needs, such as serving a large proportion of the very old (90+). In the same way that CHV was started by healthy individuals before they needed services, so too must it continue to begin programs and services before many members are faced with the issues that the services would address. CHV must work to mitigate and prevent the negative impacts of aging and strengthen the community responses to aging in community through personal acts, community practices, and citywide policies. The following section outlines what, how, and why CHV has the following programs.
Note: Care Services is lightly addressed because CHV considers Care Services to be an essential service.
Villages as a Health Model
Villages can and should be a proven public health intervention for seniors. Services and programs for seniors, volunteering by and for seniors, health-promoting and social engagement activities, as well as safety measures can all be demonstrated to enhance positive health outcomes. They also save public funds through improved health, reduced emergency calls, and reduced need for nursing homes and long-term care facilities. CHV is working to document and measure its programs in order to demonstrate their impacts. If CHV can demonstrate that Villages create healthier, happier, and safer seniors and an overall reduction of health and service costs, it should help generate funding for these activities and the creation of new Villages. The point of advocating Villages as a “health model” is to sustain them, creating additional resources and supports. Today’s measurement of outcomes leads to future sustainability.
Local and National Model
CHV can and should be a local and national model for Villages. To obtain sustainable funding from corporate, philanthropic investors or governments, there must be modeling and the creation of standards, protocols, and documents. Yes, every Village is unique, like every school is unique, but there are baseline standards and models that can be used to design programs. Already, thanks to previous Board members, volunteers, and staff, CHV is considered a national model. CHV receives about six phone calls or emails a month seeking assistance from other Villages. As an identified national model, CHV should be able to garner more attention and investment from major entities. And CHV is already moving in that direction. In 2017 CHV received funding from Deerbrook Charitable Trust Fund to document its programs and potentially replicate its model. We are working locally with other D.C. Villages to cultivate a stronger sense of collaboration and share our experiences, since we have a lot to learn from each other. And, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, meaning that we should be able to gain efficiencies by sharing programs, ideas, and strategies. Finally, we also are providing 10-15 sessions a year for the nationwide Village to Village (VtV) Network on a range of topics to help develop the model.
IT for Seniors
CHV conducts IT programs for seniors to help build seniors’ IT abilities and interests. We have three types of IT programs: first, one-on-one help, which can be done by request or through scheduled hours with volunteers, often youth; second, classes on how to use a smart phone, download Apps, and use services like Uber and Peapod; third, information about technology as a current event—healthcare and technology issues, or social media and elections, etc. Inspiring seniors to have an enlightened self-interest in learning about and using IT is an ongoing challenge. IT can be frustrating and seeing long-term benefits can be difficult, but CHV encourages seniors to approach it with small steps.
Capitol Hill Village is working on Transportation as an issue for the present and the future. As individuals age and reduce driving, we want to ensure that the demand for rides does not overwhelm the supply of drivers. While we are continually recruiting more drivers, the reality is that most older seniors are less likely to volunteer as drivers; are more likely to request rides, and are more likely to request more rides. Also, many long-serving members who have shown a great commitment to volunteering and driving ultimately may reduce or stop driving because of age and may not be replaced with other, committed driving volunteers.
CHV recognizes that any individual who depends on CHV for all transportation needs is not independent. To extend independence as along as possible without driving, CHV is working to change attitudes and increase knowledge and skills about other transportation options, including public transportation, subsidized transportation, and ride-hailing apps. For example, CHV is working to expand individuals’ commitment to public transit, safe biking and walking. For seniors who are still driving, we are sponsoring safe driver education classes, which bring seniors up to speed on roadway safety for all and introduce the concepts of reducing or stopping driving. CHV transportation grants work with all DC villages on these issues.
Low Income Seniors
Early Board members and donors committed CHV to providing services to all community seniors, regardless of income level, establishing as a core CHV value that a Village is not going to be effective if it fails to provide services to all income levels. There is nothing about a Village that limits the model’s applicability to different income levels. Volunteer-first and neighbor-helping-neighbor simply require a rich heart and willingness to help. Service, programs, and learning can apply in any setting. In 2017 CHV expanded its outreach to low-income communities by partnering with low-income individuals and engaging other networks to collaborate.
In 2017, CHV started to develop an evaluation framework for our programs, services and overall member engagement. We are doing this to get a clear picture of the impact and outcomes of our programs. Are CHV members happier, healthier, safer as a result of their engagement in CHV programs and activities? If so, what are the factors that make them so. If not, what elements should be changed? We want to make sure that the activities, programs and services are changing the lives of members, and therefore we need to know which services have greater or lesser benefit.
CHV started evaluation efforts by creating both baseline data and comparison data. A committee of members was formed to advise about the development of a logic model and an evaluation framework, and an external evaluator was consulted to reduce internal bias and build evaluation skills among staff. The goal is to create stronger programs, continuous improvement, and data integration.
Continuing the work in 2018, CHV is developing a member-wide survey to include items from a range of national surveys to collect baseline household information and information about transportation habits. In future years we will collect information about health practices, personal outlook and social engagement. By using information that has appeared on other surveys, CHV will be able to compare samples of adults.
Volunteering is CHV’s greatest asset. CHV is now able to recruit new volunteers and train and manage volunteers using new protocols and practices. These are improvements that include expanding recruitment, training and dispatching of volunteers and expanding volunteer management to stronger teams and self-management. In 2018 CHV will re-define some volunteer tasks that require more job-like expectations and phase out previous informal engagements. The goal is to create teams of volunteers who will manage themselves in terms of scheduling, training, new ideas, and needs. This harkens back to the original CHV model and, it is hoped, will create a stronger commitment to the organization and a stronger sense of engagement with what is happening at CHV. This is unchartered territory and will be a do-and-learn experience.
CHV’s sustainability is a pressing question that Board, staff, and committee members continue to address. CHV has taken several steps toward ensuring sustainability and will continue that work in the next strategic planning phase beginning in 2018. One focus area is the CHV endowment, which has nearly tripled in value in the past three years. The endowment is a restricted fund that generates program dollars while also growing in value through donations. A second promising method to ensure sustainability is diversity in funding, which includes membership dues (24% of the budget), government and foundation grants (46%), corporate grants and donations (10%), and individual donations (15%). 1% of CHV funds comes from the endowment and 5% represents a carry-over from 2017. Diversity in funding spreads risk across funding areas, making CHV less dependent on any single category.