Age Wave

| February 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

Catholic Senior Services and affiliates care for body and soul

As the coming “age wave” gains momentum, Cath­olic Senior Ser­v­ic­es is taking on a new role in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Min­nea­polis to help area Catholic seniors and their families navigate their way through the health care tsunami.
According to the Minnesota State Demographic Center:

» This year, 10,000 baby boomers a day will turn 65 and the trend will continue for the next 20 years.

» By 2030, one in four Min­ne­so­tans will be 65 or older — double the current number.

» The number of people 85 and older will triple.

» The need for long-term care will triple by 2050.

» The ratio of family caregivers to older adults is dropping.

» By the end of this decade, there will be as many people 65 and older as there are children in K-12 schools.

» State government expenditures will shift from education to health care and services for the elderly.

Since it was established by the arch­dio­cese in 2007, Catholic Senior Services has promoted building senior housing on parish land.

Recently, it has turned its focus on efforts to coordinate a con­sor­tium of Cath­o­lic senior care pro­vi­ders, said Dea­con Dan Gan­non, CSS?director.

“I think the trend and important development we see out there is the need for more coordinated home care services and those home care services that could provide not only health care but also pastoral care,” he said.

“What we’re talking about is various models of collaboration that might exist or be created among the CSS affiliates to do home care — with parishes — providing pastoral care,” he said.

The current CSS?affiliates include Fran­ciscan Health Community in St. Paul, St. Therese Southwest in Hop­kins, St. Ther­ese of New Hope and Catholic Eldercare in Minnea­polis, which each have a representative on the new CSS board.

“We’re also reaching out to other Cath­o­lic senior care pro­viders in the arch­dio­cese and inviting them in to join CSS — creating a broader affiliation,” Deacon Gannon said.

New care models

One model, which opened earlier this month, is a parish-based senior housing that provides hospice care at St. Odilia in Shoreview.

“It’s more than hospice — it can go out to two years — it’s palliative care,” said Barbara Rode, president and CEO of St. Therese of New Hope, which has part­ner­ed with the parish and Francis­can Health Com­mu­nity to provide care for both the body and the soul.

“It’s a new concept,” Rode said. “The parish has been absolutely wonderful, be­t­ween the volunteers that have been com­­ing forward and the support we’re getting.”

Although St. Odilia had a building that could be renovated to accommodate this type of senior care, other parish buildings may become available in the future to provide senior housing, Rode said. That not only keeps seniors in the parish, but helps build parish community, she said.

Another model CSS and the affiliates are working on is home and community-based services connected to a parish.

“We’re working with CSS to be able to go into the home and take care of people so they don’t have to leave their home,” she said. The model would have an affiliate in a geographical area work with a parish nurse or other representative to identify and coordinate needed services for parishioners, she said.

“The best thing is that we [affiliates] all provide Catholic support through Mass and pastoral care,” she said. Although CSS and the affiliates have been working on this model for a while, it is still about six months away from implementation.

“Our biggest delay is getting the legal structure,” Rode said. “We will be working with Franciscan Health Com­mu­nity, which already provides home care and hospice care.”

Educating the people

Another area of focus is educational and spiritual programming around senior health care, Deacon Gannon said.

Within the past month, CSS has coor­dinated two forums, one at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Hastings and another at Holy Name of Jesus in Medina. CSS plans to offer similar forums on a quarterly basis, he added.

Rode spoke at both parishes about caregiver support, assessing a loved one and helping people navigate the complex health care system, he said.

Talks by pastors and Bishop Lee Piché focused on the spiritual growth of seniors and their caregivers, the deacon said.

Caring for both body and soul is the mission of the church, he said. “We have a rich tradition of that.”

CSS is helping coordinate the support and direction of the bishop and pastors with the expertise of Cath­olic senior care CEOs to connect to parishes and people.

“That’s the role of CSS that is emerg­ing, coordinating the affiliates in their discussions of what they could do better together, such as home care and that we have a complementary strategy . . . to provide parishes and parishioners and people in our Catholic community re­sources,” Deacon Gannon said.

It also challenges parishes to ask if they are doing everything they can to minister to the seniors in the community.

“We are all working together to create a continuum of care, so you have your housing, but you also have independent living, assisted living, nursing home care and all the way to hospice,” he said. “It’s not something we can look to the government to provide much help in.”

For more information on parish-based care, programming or affiliation with CSS, visit or call 1-877-420-6461.

Category: From Age to Age