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The Baby Boom generation isn’t just marching into retirement — they’re positively surging into their senior years, with some 10,000 Americans reaching age 65 each day.

Yet, despite the fact that senior-living communities have become increasingly modernized, specialized, and resident-focused, nearly 90% of seniors want to stay in their own homes as they age, according to the American Assoc. of Retired Persons.

And technology is helping them do just that — everything from home-monitoring devices to GPS trackers (for loved ones with dementia); from medication reminders to automatic stove turn-offs, and more . All of it is intended to lend both security to seniors living alone and peace of mind to their loved ones.

Older Americans welcome the trend — according to the AARP survey, even if they begin to need day-to-day assistance or ongoing healthcare during retirement, 82% would still prefer to stay in their own homes. Yet, the stereotype often lingers of seniors being technophobes averse to change.

“Many Boomers disagree with that statement, finding it insulting or pessimistic or both,” writes Laurie Orlov, principal analyst for Aging in Place Technology Watch, a market-research organization that provides analysis and guidance about technologies and services that enable seniors to remain longer in their home of choice. “They will repeat plaintively that Baby Boomers are very different than their parents’ generation. They are comfortable with technology. See how many have smartphones — they text, use Facebook and YouTube. Many book travel online, read Trip-Advisor reviews, and even call for car pickups with an app.”

So why not embrace technology meant to improve quality of life and — just as important — independence? Especially, Orlov noted, when there are so many options, from a simple door sensor or a sophisticated whole-home automation and security system.

In the case of the former, simple technology can have profound results. “If an older adult is alone at home, enters a room, and does not return past the sensor, an alert is sent to a family member or other predefined organization, thus enabling an attempt to contact the older adult, and, if no answer, to dispatch help.”

Rachel Walker, an assistant professor in the UMass Amherst College of Nursing, has focused much of her research on addressing health disparities and the care of older adults with cancer and other serious illnesses. She’s also on the faculty for the Center for Personalized Health Monitoring (CPHM), one of three centers that make up the Institute for Applied Life Sciences at UMass Amherst, one that aims to accelerate the development and commercialization of low-cost, wearable, wireless sensor systems for personalized healthcare and biometric monitoring — but always with a focus on the human side of care.

“Oftentimes in the national news, there’s a lot of focus on the technologies — things like wearable sensors and home health monitors,” she explained. “A lot of clinicians and practitioners like myself work with individuals out in the community who experience these health challenges as they age, and there aren’t too many places that merge those two ends of the spectrum.”

Through the Wires

One reason technology isn’t an end-all, Walker said, is because, while 90% of older adults prefer to stay in place, it’s a bigger challenge in the more rural areas of Western Mass., where people may not have access to broadband and high-speed wireless service.

“That’s a sticky wicket. We’re embracing technology more and more, in this digital arena where people also expect to access their health record [electronically]; all these things are on the horizon, but we have whole communities in this region that have yet to get high-speed access.

“The team I work with, we would like to develop solutions that put control back in the hands of actual individuals and their caregivers,” she went on, adding that they’re using grant funds to develop a home-assessment tool that’s compatible with people’s smartphones. “Most users, even in places without high-speed wireless, have access to smartphones.”

Susan Keel, an aging-in-place specialist, recently told HGTV that a robust whole-home security system can be installed for the same cost as one month in an assisted-living facility. “With a system like this, you can remotely log in on a smartphone or the Internet, and, via the devices connected to the system, monitor your loved one’s activities.”

On a smaller scale, Orlov said personal emergency-response systems — wearable devices that can be used to alert outsiders of a health emergency or fall — is currently a $3 billion market that has evolved only slightly from its origins. But one important advance has been their use outside the home.

“The ‘I’ve fallen’ message is still inspiring families and seniors to acquire one. But 30% of the market’s sales are for mobile devices. This makes sense in this time of substantial life expectancy at age 65, when 46% of women aged 75+ live alone,” she notes. “Mobility demands mobile devices, which in turn boost confidence to be out and about. Consider walking the dog — since one-third of the 65+ population has one.”

The Center for Personalized Health Monitoring consolidates expertise from polymer science and engineering, computer science, kinesiology, and neuroscience as well as from other departments and collaborators, such as the UMass Medical School and industry, to develop solutions that consider the whole person, not just technology, Walker told BusinessWest.

For example, “we’re trying to better understand what specific exercises older adults can do to improve their lower-extremity balance and strength, so they don’t have as much risk for falls,” she explained.

At the same time, however, “we’re working on home sensor networks to determine how people are using the space, so we can optimize their environment. We’ve also focused on some of the data-security problems, to make sure information is kept secure from hackers.”

In short, Walker said, there’s plenty of room for technology to help people understand their environment and manage chronic conditions and symptoms, such as fatigue and sleep impairments that, if not addressed over time, can wear the body down and lead to other types of disability. “We try to avoid that so people can stay in their homes as long as possible as they continue to age.”

Human Touch

As amazing as it is, technology doesn’t have all the answers, writes elder-care specialist Michelle Seitzer at Care.com.

“It should never be used to supplement actual caregiving — only enhance it. Certain situations may require a caregiver’s assistance or physical presence (be it a family member, neighbor, or a senior-care aide) for a few hours a week, overnight, or most of the day.

“There may also come a time when it’s just not safe for your loved one to stay home — no matter how many webcams you install,” she continues. “If a senior doesn’t answer the phone, seems withdrawn, falls frequently, misses medications, or wanders off regularly, you may need to look beyond technology. Think about options like hiring a home-care aide or finding senior housing. Figure out what works best for your loved one and the situation, and be open to changes along the way.”

Walker said her team at UMass focuses on concepts of dignity, capability, and healthcare equity in the senior years, and not on technology for its own sake.

“Any time we start a new project, we ask if there is really a need for this technology or new device. Are we building something people really need? Secondly, how will it fit into the life of the person it’s designed for? Also, who’s been left out? A lot of technology is built for the upper middle class, and that’s certainly a need, but we need to make sure what we’re building doesn’t systematically exclude certain individuals like rural residents, with no high-speed wireless access.”

Then there are unintended consequences. “Are we making someone reliant on a device, so if something breaks on the device, they’re left without a safety net to get their needs met?”

It’s an important question to keep in mind as the worlds of elder care and technology continue to cross-fertilize in new, intriguing ways.

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Agenda Departments

Women’s Fund Mentor Match
Jan. 13: January is National Mentoring Month, and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts (WFWM) announced its second annual Mentor Match, a networking event that aims to engage emerging leaders with seasoned professionals. The event will take place from 1 to 3 p.m. at the UMass Center at Springfield, and is open to the public. Featuring Bay Path University Professor Janine Fondon, WFWM board and committee members, participants and alumni of the Women’s Fund’s Leadership Institute for Political and Public Impact (LIPPI), and community members, the Mentor Match is designed to connect members of the Women’s Fund family as mentors and mentees to share resources, experiences, and work together in order to achieve professional and personal goals. All members of the Women’s Fund community are invited to attend. RSVP by Jan. 10 by visiting www.mywomensfund.org/event/mentor-match.

Pet CPR, First Aid Course
Jan. 14, 21: Many people remember learning CPR and basic first aid in health class, but have you thought about taking a course which covers this topic as it relates to your pet? Jim Helems of Pet Tech has made it easier for pet owners to understand first aid with his PetSaver Training class. He travels throughout the Pioneer Valley offering this training, and next month he will offer this course at the Good Dog Spot. Pet Tech’s trainings have helped save the lives of thousands of pets. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the one-day course. The cost is $120 and will take place at the Chicopee location (35 C Chicopee St.) on Sunday, Jan. 14 and at the Northampton location (139 King St.) on Sunday, Jan. 21. Interested participants can register by visiting www.gooddogspot.net.

Caregiver Options Workshop
Jan. 17: Linda Manor Assisted Living in Leeds will host a seminar on caring for an aging relative or spouse, featuring expert advice from Sheryl Fappiano, a professional geriatric care manager. The session is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., and will include dinner. To RSVP, call Linda Manor Assisted Living at (413) 588-3301. Fappiano is a licensed social worker specializing in gerontology. She has worked for more than 35 years in a variety of settings all relating to geriatrics. Her team’s specialty is to help seniors age in place, with dignity and peace of mind for the elder and their family. She is affiliated with Elder Care Access, LLC in Florence and owns Golden Moments Adult Day Health Spa in Florence.

Equal Pay Act Roundtable
Jan. 18: The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act has been amended, and new provisions will begin on July 1. Attorney Timothy Netkovick will discuss the new provisions, its impact on employers, and discuss how employers can take advantage of the safe-harbor provisions from 8 to 9 a.m. at Royal, P.C., 270 Pleasant St., Northampton. The amendments present several substantive changes to multiple definitions in the Equal Pay Act, such as employer defenses, comparable work, statute of limitations, and salary-history inquiries. The new provisions provide employers with safe-harbor provisions if the employer takes affirmative steps within the previous three years and prior to the filing of a lawsuit. The cost is $30 per person. Checks may be made payable to Royal, P.C. and mailed to 270 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA 01060. Advance registration is required, and seating is limited. Contact Heather Loges at [email protected] to register, or if you have any questions about this workshop.

40 Under Forty Nomination Deadline
Feb. 16: BusinessWest magazine will accept nominations for the 40 Under Forty Class of 2017 through the end of the work day (5 p.m.) on Friday, Feb 16. The annual program, now in its 12th year, recognizes rising stars within the Western Mass. community, which includes Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties. This year’s group of 40 will be profiled in the magazine’s April 30 edition, then toasted at the June 21 gala at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House in Holyoke (see below). The nomination form, which can be found HERE, requests basic information and can be supported with other material, such as a résumé, testimonials, and even press clippings highlighting an individual’s achievements in their profession or service to their community.

Difference Makers
March 22: The 10th annual Difference Makers award program, staged by BusinessWest, will be held at the Log Cabin Banquet & Meeting House. The winners will be announced and profiled in the Jan. 22 issue. Difference Makers is a program, launched in 2009, that recognizes groups and individuals that are, as the name suggests, making a difference in this region. Tickets to the event cost $75 per person, with tables of 10 available. To order, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100 or visit HERE. Sponsors to date include Sunshine Village and Royal, P.C. Sponsorship opportunities are still available by calling (413) 781-8600, ext. 100.

40 Under Forty Gala
June 21: BusinessWest’s 12th annual 40 Under Forty Gala is a celebration of 40 young business and civic leaders in Western Mass. The lavish cocktail party, to be held starting at 5:30 p.m. at the Log Cabin in Holyoke, will feature butlered hors d’oeuvres, food stations, and entertainment — and, of course, the presentation of the class of 2017. Also, the third Continued Excellence Award honoree will be announced. Tickets will go on sale soon at $75 per person (tables of 10 available), and the event tends to sell out quickly. For more information, call (413) 781-8600, ext. 100, or e-mail [email protected].

Health Care Sections

A Matter of Compliance

The team at River Valley Counseling Center

The team at River Valley Counseling Center and local dignitaries cut the ribbon recently on the facility’s new in-house pharmacy.

It’s an easy concept to understand, Rosemarie Ansel said: medicine is useless if it’s not taken.

And prescription non-compliance is a common problem in the behavioral-health realm, said the executive director of River Valley Counseling Center. That can lead to rehospitalization in many cases, or worse.

“Whether it’s outpatient mental health or day treatment or services in schools, the idea is to provide support for people and help them manage their medical diagnosis so they remain in the community setting and not be hospitalized,” Ansel said. “Behavioral-health patients are a big part of who visits emergency departments. We try to provide services so it doesn’t get escalated to that level.”

That’s why she’s excited about River Valley’s new partnership with Genoa, the largest provider of pharmacy, telepsychiatry, and medication-management services for the behavioral-health and addiction-treatment communities. The company recently opened a pharmacy inside River Valley’s main clinic in Holyoke, Genoa’s fourth such location in Massachusetts and the first in the Greater Springfield region.

Genoa’s 380 pharmacies, all set in behavioral-health clinics across the country, serve than 550,000 individuals annually in 45 states, filling more than 13 million prescriptions annually.

“The focus is on behavioral-health medications, although they provide all medications for any of of our clients, their families, my staff, and my staff’s families,” Ansel said. “River Valley isn’t going to make any money on this; just a little bit of rent for the square footage in the building. It’s a partnership, in that the goal was to have the clients be more medication-compliant.”

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Managed Care and Specialty Pharmacy showed that integrated care models that feature on-site pharmacies produce higher medication adherence rates than community pharmacies, as well as lower rates of hospitalization and emergency-department utilization. In fact, Genoa’s consumers average more than a 90% medication-adherence rate.

And that’s the key, Ansel said. While there’s no guarantee patients will take their prescribed medications, compliance rates rise significantly once they have a prescription filled — which is much easier with a dedicated pharmacy on the clinic site than it is when they must visit a pharmacy off-site.

“One of the things we know in behavioral health is that clients pick up scripts and never fill them, or they don’t adhere to the recommended instructions, and they’re back in the hospital, and the cycle continues,” Ansel said. “We have a pharmacist who really understands the importance of being compliant and following their treatment plans to stay healthy.”

In addition, a pharmacist who specializes in the behavioral-health field, and who can easily communicate with a patient’s doctor if there are questions, makes it much easier to quickly answer questions, reducing confusion and further promoting compliance, she added.

For this issue’s focus on behavioral health, BusinessWest  spoke with Ansel about this new pharmacy partnership and how it’s just one part of a multi-faceted effort to increase access to behavioral healthcare for clients across the region.

Straight Talk

Ansel said River Valley had two ‘asks’ before taking Genoa on as a partner. One was that the pharmacist had to be bilingual in English and Spanish, as are about 75% of the practice’s 165 employees. “That’s a really important feature for us,” she said, considering the demographics of Holyoke. The pharmacist assigned to River Valley, Angel Marrero, fits the bill.

The second was that Marrero would be an active advocate with insurance companies, which often try to block certain medications, forcing practitioners to spend valuable patient time fighting with them.

“It’s time-consuming, it’s cumbersome, you’re on hold for a half-hour before talking to someone,” she explained. “This will free up our prescribers to see more clients. It’s a win-win for them.”

Rosemarie Ansel

Rosemarie Ansel says keeping clients compliant with medication instructions starts with making sure they actually fill the prescriptions.

After agreeing to both caveats, Genoa went to work over the winter in converting former waiting-area space into a pharmacy at the front of the clinic. After a soft opening in June, the pharmacy became the only one of its type in Western Mass.

River Valley’s clients — who receive outpatient care clinics in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Easthampton, as well as school-based sites in those three communities, as well as Granby and Springfield — run the gamut of age, demographics, and medical needs, Ansel explained.

For instance, the practice provides therapy in primary-care doctors’ offices, with licensed therapists assigned to the practice. The reason is that front-line providers are often the first to diagnosis a mental-health concern, and for many clients, their doctor’s office is the most comfortable environment for them to receive services.

In the elder-care realm, River Valley has contracts with both WestMass Elder Care and LifePath (in Franklin County) to provide mental-health services to the elderly, including in their homes.

For the younger set, school-based clinics in Holyoke, Chicopee, and Easthampton, as well as a few in Granby and Springfield, bring therapy services to students during the school day.

“Parents are overwhelmed, and the thought of taking the kid out of school and bringing them to therapy, then bringing the kids back — many times, that’s not going to happen. They’re working; they’ve got their own schedules. And transportation can be a huge issue. Even if the kid wants to go to therapy, he may not be able to get there. We go to the schools, which are considered satellites of our main clinic. Kids get taken out of non-core classes to see a therapist right at the school.”

Besides the therapeutic program, these school-based clinics provide a range of general health services, such as immunizations, physicals, dental screenings, and referral services to primary or specialty care. A similar program is offered at Springfield Technical Community College, again, so students can access therapeutic services without having to travel off campus.

Meanwhile, an employee-assistance program allows companies to access therapy services for their workers. “For example, an employee might be having a hard time at work, in their personal life, with finances, with their kids, and they need someone to reach out to. It could be financial problem, dealing with gambling problem, or it could be something that happened at a job site. If there’s a long-term therapy issue, they can link up with those services.”

The common thread with all these models of care? “We go to the clients in an effort to support them in the environment where they feel the most comfortable,” Ansel said. And comfort level is a bigger deal in the mental-health world than it is in other areas of healthcare.

“There’s a stigma around behavioral health. You need to make yourself as available as possible because, if there’s any kind of barrier, they don’t come. When we get just a little bit of snow, the cancellation rate skyrockets. Therapy is work. You’re not just chatting; you’re working on an issue, and that can be hard to face. If you can have it in an environment that’s more conducive, that causes less stress in your life, it makes it easier.”

Broad Reach

River Valley Counseling Center, which is part of Valley Health Systems and an affiliate of Holyoke Medical Center, has broadened its reach in other ways as well, such as with a day treatment program launched in Chicopee a few years ago.

“That’s for more chronically mentally ill clients, providing services during the work week with the goal of helping them become more independent and less dependent on such a structured program, so maybe they can get a job or start volunteering someplace and move on. People stay there anywhere from a couple months to a couple years, depending on their level of need.”

The practice also offers an HIV/AIDS support and treatment program, headquartered in Springfield, which provides assessment and referral services, case management, support groups, housing services, and other resources.

Considering all the ways River Valley strives to bring services to clients where they are, Ansel said, the partnership with Genoa, aimed at making medication compliance much easier, just makes sense.

“Everything is customer-friendly,” she said, right down to the bubble packaging Genoa uses to sort and clearly label medications by the dose and time.

“They really have a good, positive energy about their work,” she added. “They do things like send thank-you notes to all patients, hand-signed by the technician and pharmacist. Clients very much appreciate that personal touch. I just love this company.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Company Notebook Departments

STCC Partners with Northeastern University

SPRINGFIELD — A new educational and workforce-development partnership between Springfield Technical Community College (STCC) and Northeastern University creates an opportunity for current STCC students, graduates, and the general public to earn bachelor’s degrees in mechanical engineering technology and advanced manufacturing systems on site at STCC. In a recent ceremony at STCC, leaders from both institutions officially signed a memorandum of understanding to mark this partnership. In the planning stages for more than a year, the agreement with STCC marks the first time Northeastern has partnered with a community college to offer bachelor’s degrees on site. “Our engineering and manufacturing programs continue to be a signature of STCC, and we are very pleased to collaborate with Northeastern to deepen and enhance workforce efforts for Western Massachusetts,” said John Cook, STCC president. Added Mary Loeffelholz, dean of Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, “we’re pleased to partner with Springfield Technical Community College as it expands opportunities for students. Both of our institutions value experiential learning and industry-aligned degrees to prepare students for career and life success.” Students may choose either a pathway to a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering technology or in advanced manufacturing systems from Northeastern to be completed online and at STCC. Both degrees are part of the Lowell Institute School at Northeastern, which offers 15 bachelor’s-degree programs, 10 of which are available completely online. “This partnership with STCC is in keeping with the mission and tradition of the Lowell Institute School, which began when A. Lawrence Lowell created the Lowell Institute School for Industrial Foremen in 1903,” said Kemi Jona, founding director of the Lowell Institute School and associate dean of Undergraduate Programs. “The goal then was to bring essential knowledge and opportunity to the people doing the work driving the economy of the new century. Today, the Lowell Institute School is still committed to this goal, reaching students in new ways and places.” The agreement maximizes convenience and cost-effectiveness for STCC graduates who wish to obtain bachelor’s degrees in the two programs, said Adrienne Smith, dean of the School of Engineering Technologies & Mathematics at STCC. Smith said most STCC students have families in the area and would prefer to get their bachelor’s degrees in the Springfield area. In addition to some online courses, classes will take place in the evening and possibly Saturdays.

United Bank Foundation Supports Baystate Project

SPRINGFIELD — The United Bank Foundation Massachusetts recently approved a $50,000 grant designated to help Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Health Foundation establish a permanent Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit at the hospital. Baystate launched its ACE unit as a pilot program in September 2014, providing nationally recognized and award-winning geriatric care that has resulted in many positive clinical outcomes for elder patients at the medical center, including reducing the length of hospital stays for elderly patients, enhancing patient safety, boosting training for medical staff, and increasing the number of patients who return directly home after their hospital stay. Due to the success of the pilot program, Baystate is seeking partners like United Bank to help establish a permanent, state-of-the-art ACE unit. This 32-bed unit would enable Baystate to provide acute care to more elderly patients in Western Mass. To date, Baystate’s ACE unit has treated approximately 500 elderly patients. According to the Baystate Health Foundation, the elderly population in Western Mass. — which is currently among the highest in the state — is expected to rise by nearly 15% in 2018. By 2030, the older adult population will increase to more than 70 million and account for one in every five Americans. “For anyone who has an elderly family member who required a prolonged hospital stay, you want peace of mind knowing your loved ones are comfortable in a compassionate setting, receiving top medical care, and are on course to return home to lead independent lives when they are discharged,” said Dena Hall, the bank’s Western Mass. regional president and president of the United Bank Foundation Massachusetts. “Baystate has a proven record for meeting these patient-care goals and successfully addressing the unique physical and psychological needs of elderly patients. We know our $50,000 financial commitment will help Baystate continue to be a leader in transforming elder care in Western Mass.”

AIC Named to Top 10 Small Colleges in State

SPRINGFIELD — Zippia.com, a website dedicated to helping people find and pursue the right career, has named American International College (AIC) one of the top 10 small colleges in Massachusetts. Zippia sorted schools in the Bay State by enrollment, limiting their report to institutions with fewer than 2,000 students. They assessed data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and college scorecard data from www.ed.gov to determine what small schools offer the best career opportunities and school performance. Career considerations included mean earnings after six and 10 years, and the ratio of people working to not working after 10 years. School performance was measured in terms of admissions rate (the more selective, the better), graduation rate, average cost of attendance (the lower, the better), and debt upon graduation. Once career opportunities and school performance were calculated, Zippia examined the 32 institutions of higher learning in Massachusetts enrolling fewer than 2,000 students. American International College is one of the private schools to be recognized. AIC admits 67% of its students and is the 10th-least-expensive small college to attend in the Commonwealth.

Westfield Bank, Customers Raise Hurricane-relief Funds

WESTFIELD — Westfield Bank presented a donation for $8,000 to the Westfield Spanish American Assoc. and the Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico coalition to aid relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The funds were raised during the Bank’s “Casual for a Cause” event held earlier this month, in which employees could earn the privilege of dressing casually by contributing to the fund-raiser. Bank customers were also invited to drop contributions in collection boxes located at the Bank’s 21 branch offices. Together, employees and customers donated $4,000, and Westfield Bank matched their efforts with an additional $4,000. According to Ed Diaz, co-founder of the Westfield Spanish American Assoc. (WSAA) and chairman of the association’s hurricane relief fund, the bank’s donation will be sent directly to the United for Puerto Rico relief fund. Together, the WSAA and Western Massachusetts United for Puerto Rico form a coalition of community groups; civic and business leaders; volunteers from Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, and Chicopee; and others in Western Mass. working to bring relief to the people of Puerto Rico. “Over $100,000 has been raised thus far,” said Diaz, “and we have collected other items such as batteries, water, sanitary products, canned foods, and radios at drop-off points at the Westfield Boys & Girls Club, the Westfield YMCA, and the Westfield school superintendent’s office. We have shipped over 250 boxes of goods to Puerto Rico, and we thank Westfield Bank and everyone who donated to this cause and volunteered their time and talent for this effort.” Both Westfield Bank and the WSAA plan to continue their efforts on behalf of Hurricane Maria relief. With significant support from the WSAA and the Portuguese American Club in Chicopee, a group of Westfield Bank employee volunteers is organizing a benefit dance on Saturday, Dec. 2. The dance will be held from 6 p.m. until midnight at the Portuguese American Club, 149 Exchange St., Chicopee. For more details, visit any Westfield Bank office.

State Awards HCC $229,500 for Culinary Arts Institute

HOLYOKE — The HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute got a big boost yesterday from the governor’s office with the awarding of a $229,500 grant for the purchase of computer and kitchen equipment for the new downtown training facility, which is expected to open next month. During an appearance at Nashoba Valley Technical High School in Westford, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a total of $9.5 million in Workforce Skills Capital Grants to 32 community colleges, high schools, and educational institutions to enhance and expand career training programs like the ones Holyoke Community College (HCC) will be operating at the Cubit Building on the corner of Race and Appleton streets in the city’s Innovation District. “These Skills Capital Grants will help boost our economy and equip students with new skills, knowledge, and experience with state-of-the-art equipment across the Commonwealth,” Baker said. “We look forward to continuing our work with these 32 institutions and previous awardees to enhance their programs and develop a skilled workforce ready to meet the needs of the Commonwealth.” The HCC grant will be used to buy 32 computer workstations, networking infrastructure, and software programs unique to hospitality- and culinary-industry workplaces, as well as kitchen equipment such as refrigerators, grill and fry tables, ice machines, skillets, griddles, steamers, and dishwashers. “All the items purchased with the grant will directly support workforce training for occupations within the growing hospitality and culinary-arts industry of Western Massachusetts, including preparing workers for MGM Springfield, one of our major employer partners,” said Amy Dopp, HCC’s interim vice president of Institutional Advancement. She said the new equipment will allow the college to increase the number of seats available in its credit and non-credit programs and be able to customize instruction to meet the needs of local employers. Construction of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute, which will occupy nearly 20,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the Cubit Building, is expected to be completed in late November, with non-credit workforce-training programs beginning in December. HCC’s credit programs in hospitality and culinary arts will relocate from the main campus to the new facility for the beginning of the spring 2018 semester.

Daily News

SPRINGFIELD — The United Bank Foundation Massachusetts recently approved a $50,000 grant designated to help Baystate Medical Center and Baystate Health Foundation establish a permanent Acute Care for Elders (ACE) unit at the hospital.

Baystate launched its ACE unit as a pilot program in September 2014, providing nationally recognized and award-winning geriatric care that has resulted in many positive clinical outcomes for elder patients at the medical center, including reducing the length of hospital stays for elderly patients, enhancing patient safety, boosting training for medical staff, and increasing the number of patients who return directly home after their hospital stay.

Due to the success of the pilot program, Baystate is seeking partners like United Bank to help establish a permanent, state-of-the-art ACE unit. This 32-bed unit would enable Baystate to provide acute care to more elderly patients in Western Mass. To date, Baystate’s ACE unit has treated approximately 500 elderly patients.

According to the Baystate Health Foundation, the elderly population in Western Mass. — which is currently among the highest in the state — is expected to rise by nearly 15% in 2018. By 2030, the older adult population will increase to more than 70 million and account for one in every five Americans.

“For anyone who has an elderly family member who required a prolonged hospital stay, you want peace of mind knowing your loved ones are comfortable in a compassionate setting, receiving top medical care, and are on course to return home to lead independent lives when they are discharged,” said Dena Hall, the bank’s Western Mass. regional president and president of the United Bank Foundation Massachusetts. “Baystate has a proven record for meeting these patient-care goals and successfully addressing the unique physical and psychological needs of elderly patients. We know our $50,000 financial commitment will help Baystate continue to be a leader in transforming elder care in Western Mass.”

Added Dr. Andrew Artenstein, chief physician executive at Baystate Health, “we’ve proven that this approach works, and the need for it will increase significantly as our population increases. It’s time to move out of the pilot stage and crease a more permanent, expanded ACE unit.”

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — JGS Lifecare will host Dr. Bill Thomas’ ChangingAging Tour on Monday, June 12 in the Gloth Family Auditorium, 770 Converse St., Longmeadow. There will be two performances: “Disrupt Dementia” from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., and “Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game” from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Many claim that aging will change us against our will, and for the worse. Thomas, a graduate of Harvard Medical School and an international authority on geriatric medicine and elder care, argues that this is false. Blending myth and science, live music and visuals, the ChangingAging Tour is barnstorming the country in a rock-and-roll tour bus to bring communities a new and highly disruptive understanding of aging.

Drawing on ancient wisdom and scientific breakthroughs, the ChangingAging Tour challenges audience members to reject ageist stereotypes and embrace the moments of life that offer the greatest risk, reward, and possibility.

“We are thrilled to bring this transformational event to our local community,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of JGS Lifecare. “Dr. Thomas is the creator of the small-house concept known as the Green House model of care, which is employed at our new Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, and will be coming next to our Leavitt Family Jewish Home as part of phase two of our Project Transformation.”

The ChangingAging Tour includes two non-fiction theater performances as well as an expert panel discussion and an immersive lobby experience. In the afternoon, “Disrupt Dementia” — featuring music and stories from Samite and Nate Silas Richardson, and co-hosts Dr. Jennifer Carson and Kyrié Carpenter — challenges common misconceptions and stereotypes of dementia. The evening performance, Dr. Thomas’ signature show, is “Aging: Life’s Most Dangerous Game,” featuring musician Nate Silas Richardson and Namarah McCall, which explores aging as a rich process of growth.

“Aging can be reimagined as a vivid and enlivening process that presents us with extraordinary risks and rewards,” Thomas said. “So, how are we supposed to play this most dangerous of all games? What do winning and losing look like?”

Through the performances, attendees will explore the difference between truth and illusion when it comes to aging, effective insights for better health and well-being gained from the wisdom of elders, exciting possibilities for every stage of life, illuminating insights on what elders — even those living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — can teach about creating kind and inclusive communities, and more.

Between the two performances, JGS Lifecare will offer a panel discussion, tours of the Sosin Center for Rehabilitation, and vendor displays. Michael’s Café will be open for refreshments.

Tickets cost $10 each, or both performances for $15. National event sponsors include AARP and Holiday Retirement. Local event sponsors including Visiting Angels, the Alzheimer’s Assoc., Dr. Fred Brownstein, and Health New England. Event supporters include Carr Property Management, Glenmeadow, HealthPro Rehabilitation, Healthcare Services Group, Jewish Family Services, and Springfield Jewish Community Center. Tickets can be purchased online at changingaging.com using discount code JGS50, or in person at JGS Lifecare, 770 Converse St., Longmeadow, in the Development Office.

Business of Aging Sections

The Write Stuff

By Gina Barry, Esq.

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

It should come as no surprise that the general population of the U.S. is aging. According to the Administration for Community Living, which was created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people who were age 65 or older represented 14.5% of the population in 2014, and that number is expected to grow to 21.7% of the population by 2040.

When aging, most people would prefer to have a plan in place to ensure that their needs and goals will be met, even if they are incapacitated or pass away. While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.

As explained below, a basic estate plan is comprised of four legal documents and is quite simple to establish.

Last Will and Testament

A will directs the disposition of the probate estate. The probate estate consists of assets held in the decedent’s name alone that do not have a beneficiary designated. When a person passes away without a will, their estate will be distributed as directed by the Commonwealth’s intestacy law, which may not be as they would have desired.

A common misconception is that a will is not needed if every asset is jointly owned or has a designated beneficiary. Of course, there must be a surviving joint owner for this plan to work. If both owners pass away simultaneously in a common accident, the estate will need to be probated, as there will be no surviving joint owner.

A will is also necessary in order to designate a personal representative, who will carry out the estate. The personal representative will gather the probate assets, pay valid debts, and make distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries as set forth in the will. Further, if the decedent leaves behind minor children, a guardian can be designated in the will to take custody of these children.

Likewise, a trust can be established in a will that would provide ongoing protection for minor children — or possibly for other beneficiaries who should not receive their inheritance outright, usually due to spendthrift concerns. When there is no will in place, the power and ability to make these designations and to direct the disposition of property is forfeited.

Healthcare Proxy

A healthcare proxy is a document that designates a healthcare agent, who would make healthcare decisions in the event of incapacity of the principal (person signing the proxy). The healthcare agent would step into the shoes of the principal and make decisions as they would if they were able. For example, they may decide whether a certain medication should be taken, whether a certain medical procedure should be done, or whether there should be an admission or discharge from a medical facility.

 

While many people believe they do not have enough money to need an estate plan, the need for an estate plan is not solely related to the amount of one’s wealth.”

 

‘Living will’ language is normally included within the healthcare proxy. The living-will language addresses end-of-life decisions and generally sets forth that the principal does not want extraordinary medical procedures used to keep them alive when there is no likelihood of recovery. This can be a difficult decision to carry out; therefore, care should be taken to name someone who would be able to honor that decision. Individuals who have an advanced illness may choose to establish medical orders for life-sustaining treatment (MOLST) in addition to a healthcare proxy.

A MOLST is a medical order form completed by a patient and their physician that relays instructions about a patient’s care, including stating which treatment should be given or otherwise withheld. A MOLST would eliminate the need for living-will language in a proxy, but the best practice would be to reference it in the proxy.

Durable Power of Attorney

A durable power of attorney is a document that designates someone to make financial decisions. This document is usually in full force and effect when it is signed, but it is expected that it will not be used unless you are unable to handle your own financial affairs. It is also possible to grant a springing power that does not take effect until incapacity arises.


Rehabilitation Facilities in Western Mass.


The power of attorney is a very powerful document that is as broad as the powers granted within it. It gives authority to the designated person to handle all financial decisions, not just pay bills. In most cases, the person named will be authorized to handle real estate, life insurance, retirement accounts, other investment accounts, bank accounts, and any other matters involving money.  As such, the person chosen to serve in this capacity should be someone with financial savvy who can be trusted without reservation.

Homestead Declaration

The homestead declaration, once properly recorded in the Registry of Deeds, declares a principal residence to be a homestead. The homestead declaration protects the equity in the primary residence up to $500,000 from attachment, seizure, execution on judgment, levy, or sale for the payment of debts.

In some cases, such as advanced age or disability, the equity protection can be up to $1 million. If a homestead declaration is not recorded, there is an automatic $125,000 of equity protection.  In addition to some other specific exceptions, a homestead declaration will not protect the real estate from nursing-home costs or tax liens.

Conclusion

With these four documents, most people can help their family members or trusted companions avoid expensive and painful legal hassles related to their ongoing care and their estate.

Individuals with more complicated estates may require different or additional documents to fully protect their interests and their beneficiaries, but for the majority of people, an estate plan is only four documents away.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Departments People on the Move
Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser

Christopher Visser, formerly an associate attorney with the firm, was elected Partner at Bulkley, Richardson and Gelinas, LLP effective Jan. 1. He joined Bulkley Richardson in 2011 and works principally in its Springfield office, where he is a member of the firm’s Litigation/ADR Department and Health Law Practice Group. Visser’s practice consists primarily of handling complex litigation with a focus in professional malpractice defense. He has represented physicians, mid-levels, nurses, and healthcare organizations in all types of medical-malpractice cases, ranging from labor and delivery cases to cancer cases. He has also successfully represented physicians before the Board of Registration in Medicine, and other healthcare providers before their licensing boards. He also has experience representing clients in insurance-coverage litigation, insurance subrogation, products liability, personal injury, trust litigation, and other civil-litigation matters. He has handled all aspects of prosecuting and defending civil-litigation actions and has represented clients in housing, district, and superior courts, as well as in federal and appellate courts. He has also represented clients in administrative proceedings, arbitrations, and mediations. Visser is a 2003 graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. He attended Western New England University School of Law, where he was a member of the National Moot Court team, and earned his juris doctor in 2009, cum laude. He returns annually to Western New England University School of Law to mentor first-year students in the Introduction to the Legal Profession course. After graduating, he worked for an immigration firm in Hartford and a civil-litigation firm in Springfield prior to joining Bulkley Richardson. He is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York.

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The Gaudreau Group Insurance and Financial Services Agency recently welcomed back to its team Kate Roy, Director of Marketing. In her new role, Roy helps communicate the firm’s mission: “we help our clients discover, protect, and enhance the people, places, and things that are important to them.” Working closely with the Gaudreau Group’s strategy advisors, account managers, and President Jules Gaudreau, Roy delivers communications that help current and prospective clients understand the benefits of working with the Gaudreau Group. As a certified insurance counselor, she has a deep understanding of the insurance industry and worked for several years in the personal-insurance business, both for a large national carrier and for several agencies. “We’re excited to have Kate back on our team. Her combination of marketing expertise and in-depth insurance experience is rare, resulting in a greater ability to communicate the Gaudreau Group’s mission to a broad audience in a unique and effective way,” Gaudreau said. A graduate of Springfield Technical Community College’s teleproduction technology program, Roy has experience in several different media channels. She was featured on roughnotes.com, the online presence of Rough Notes magazine, for her expertise on digital marketing in the insurance-agency world. She is also a graduate of the Springfield Leadership Institute, has volunteered with the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce (ERC5) and Minnechaug Regional High School’s Career Readiness collaboration, and is a current contributor to the Westfield Education to Business Alliance. Roy was with the Gaudreau Group previously from 2008 to 2014 in customer-service and administrative roles. Prior to her years in the insurance industry, she was a videographer and editor for a local NBC TV affiliate.

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Whittlesey & Hadley announced Lisa Wills, CPA has been elected to partner, effective Jan. 1. Wills has been working primarily with nonprofits over her 25-year career, growing her practice and navigating ever-changing regulation. Her progressive approach to complex audits has helped her build a reputation as an industry thought leader. Wills is an active member of the AICPA as well as the CTCPA. “Lisa is a talented auditor and trusted advisor to nonprofits throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts,” said Managing Partner Drew Andrews. “Nonprofits are one of Whittlesey & Hadley’s largest practice areas, so expanding our leadership team with a professional of Lisa’s caliber demonstrates our ongoing commitment to providing exceptional service to the nonprofit community.”

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HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Western Massachusetts recently welcomed Susan Barone to its senior leadership team as director of Marketing Operations. She brings extensive healthcare experience to HealthSouth, as she has worked in the Western Mass. community for 25 years as a registered nurse and has held roles in hospital operations and medical practice leadership. Barone’s area of expertise includes healthcare business development and marketing, with a vast knowledge of the area’s healthcare community. She received her nursing education from Baystate Medical Center School of Nursing, a bachelor’s degree from Bay Path University, and an MBA in healthcare leadership from Elms College.

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Jill McCarthy Payne

Jill McCarthy Payne

American International College (AIC) Professor of Criminal Justice Jill McCarthy Payne has been appointed by Gov. Charlie Baker to a two-year term on the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. The committee advises the Gaming Commission on matters including annual resource agenda, public safety, addiction as it relates to gambling, mitigation, and other issues. Along with Payne, committee members include two senators, two legislators, representatives from public health and labor, and Gaming Commission Chair Stephen Crosby. Payne, who resides in Springfield and represents Region B as a Springfield member, was selected by Baker because of her previous involvement with the casino project in Springfield. Appointed by Mayor Domenic Sarno, Payne served on his five-member committee that helped select MGM as the casino of choice for Springfield. In addition, and prior to her recent appointment by the governor, Payne was tapped to be a member and chair of the local Community Mitigation Committee, thereby serving dual roles at the state and local level. “I’m excited to be part of this opportunity for Springfield. Although streets are narrowed currently due to construction, upon its completion, the casino will bring a new vibrancy to downtown,” Payne said. “The MGM project itself is unique in the gaming industry because it is considered an ‘inside-out’ model, meaning that patrons will be able to visit all amenities, including restaurants and entertainment venues, without ever entering the casino itself. In addition, the casino is being built within an urban area, using the MassMutual Center, Symphony Hall, and CityStage, to become part of the fabric of the community. It is really a first of its kind.” While initial meetings have already begun in Boston, the work of the Gaming Policy Advisory Committee will begin in earnest once all facilities are open.

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Loyalty360, the professional association for customer loyalty, tapped PeoplesBank Senior Vice President of Retail Sheila King-Goodwin to present on the bank’s approach to customer engagement at the 2016 Engagement & Experience Expo in Denver. Her presentation was titled Branch of the Future: It’s Not Just About the Building, It’s Your Brand. King-Goodwin touched on a number of aspects of customer engagement, including service, innovation, and authenticity. “When they come in a branch, we really have to nail that customer experience,” she said. “We create differentiation through authenticity.”

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Kerry Bartini

Kerry Bartini

Berkshire Design Inc. announced that Kerry Bartini, AIA, earned her architectural license in December and is now a registered architect in Massachusetts. Bartini has more than 14 years of experience in the architectural profession, and her expertise encompasses design and project administration for residential and commercial architectural design projects. Bartini has been a member of the Berkshire Design team for over five years. Her recent projects in collaboration with the Berkshire Design team include work on private residences throughout Berkshire County, as well as work on a new community building for Gould Farm in Monterey, the redevelopment of the former DeSisto School property in Stockbridge, and the Residences at Bellefontaine Canyon Ranch Condominiums in Lenox. In December, Bartini was honored as one of only 12 recently licensed architects from across the country who were selected to participate in the 2016 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Think Tank. Participants in the think tank are responsible for providing critical feedback to the NCARB regarding its mission, programs, and services. Bartini graduated from Roger Williams University in 2003 with a bachelor’s degree in architecture.

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Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award. The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city. A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston. Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957. Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc. In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers. Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

Daily News

HOLYOKE — Holyoke Rotary President Venus Robinson announced the selection of Helene Florio as the 2016 recipient of the William G. Dwight Distinguished Service to Holyoke Award. The selection jury, chaired by last year’s recipient, Carl Eger Jr., has chosen Florio to be the latest recipient of this coveted award.

The first award was presented in 1940 by the Transcript-Telegram to Joseph Weis. Holyoke Rotary was pleased to take over presentation of the awards when the Dwight family was no longer involved in the newspaper business in the city.

A native of Holyoke, Florio attended schools in Torrington and Goshen, Conn., graduating from Wamogo Regional High School in Litchfield, Conn. before coming back to this region. She attended school at the University of Miami followed by Katharine Gibbs School in Boston.

Florio most recently was president of the Rotary Club of Holyoke during its centennial year. During this time, she was awarded Rotary’s highest recognition, the Paul Harris Fellowship, which acknowledges individuals who contribute, or who have contributions made in their name, to the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International. Paul Harris was the founder of Rotary in 1905, and the foundation was established in 1957.

Florio joined the Holyoke Rotary Club in 2002, becoming the first third-generation Rotarian in the Club, and has a community-service classification within Rotary. She currently serves as executive director of the Holyoke Taxpayers Assoc., where she is also president of the board of directors. She is also vice president of the WestMass Elder Care board of directors. She has also served as president of the former Junior League of Holyoke, the Area Mental Health Center, the Holyoke Hospital Aid Assoc., and the former Holyoke YWCA. She has served on the boards of the United Way, the Holyoke chapter of the American Red Cross, Loomis Communities, and Holyoke Junior Achievement Foundation. She has lent her skills to Wistariahurst Museum Assoc.

In addition, Florio is a trustee of the Mansir Fund, serving the needs of disabled children in the Greater Holyoke area. In 2009, she was elected as one of the nine local citizen volunteers to serve on the Charter Revision Committee. From CIT experience at Camp Maria Pratt as a Girl Scout to Brownie leader in Holyoke, to Ski Club and PTO, she has worked to serve children in and throughout the area. During Holyoke’s centennial celebration, she was honored as one of Holyoke’s top 100 volunteers.

Florio follows in the footsteps of an aunt, Hortense Alderman Cooke, and her father, Wayne Alderman, previous recipients of this award. She will be honored at a celebration on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at the Delaney House in Holyoke. Call Deb Buckley at (413) 534-7355 for information about tickets to the dinner.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Paul Nicholson, chair of the board of directors for Glenmeadow, announced that Anne Thomas has accepted the position of president and CEO and will begin work with the nonprofit on Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Thomas most recently served as vice president of residential health at JGS Lifecare in Longmeadow, and she has over 25 years of experience working with seniors.

“She has strong operational, interpersonal, team-building, and financial-management skills,” Nicholson said. “Most importantly, though, her career has been devoted solely to older adults, and she is passionate about the people she serves, including the staff members she leads. She has demonstrated that she is a driven leader.”

In the brief interim until Thomas begins her new position, Glenmeadow Controller David Leslie and Assistant Administrator Anne Miller will share the responsibilities of former President and CEO Timothy Cotz, who retired on Oct. 5.

Cotz announced his retirement in March to “give our board the opportunity to seek my successor in a thoughtful, planned way.”

Witt/Kieffer, an executive search firm with a specialty in senior living, conducted a national search, which narrowed the field to three finalists. Each spent a day at Glenmeadow meeting with residents, board members, and staff.

Thomas holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College in Rhode Island and a master’s in social work from Hunter College in New York.

“I am truly excited about the opportunity to lead Glenmeadow as its next CEO,” Thomas said. “Glenmeadow has earned its stellar reputation by its deep dedication to improving the lives of older adults. As a core value, I have always believed later life should be the best part of life. This philosophy is embedded in the Glenmeadow community, so I was immediately attracted.”

Throughout the interview process, Thomas said she talked with many residents, employees, and board members, all of whom expressed their genuine love for Glenmeadow. “Having always worked in elder care, I know the difficulty of achieving this level of confidence,” she said. “My initial goal will be to develop strong relationships with residents, employees, and board members. It will be my true pleasure and honor to guide the team. I cannot wait to get started.”

Glenmeadow is a life-plan community known for its holistic mission and innovative programs and outreach to the wider community. Once offering services only to residents, the organization now provides services to people living across the Greater Springfield area. Through such innovations as Glenmeadow at Home, the Lifestyle Pass, and Glenmeadow Learning, area residents have access to services from transportation and care management to education. The organization employs a staff of 200.

Law Sections

The Ultimate Role Reversal

By HYMAN G. DARLING, Esq.

Hyman G. Darling

Hyman G. Darling

One of the most challenging aspects of aging can be the role reversal that often occurs as aging parents need care from their adult children.

This dynamic can be very unsettling for all involved; it is difficult for some parents to admit they need help, and then to accept that help, and it is difficult for some children to provide the care and support an elderly parent may require. Where possible, it is always best to address these situations as a family group, and as far in advance as possible.

If you see a situation arising in which your parent will need care, you should begin planning to assess their needs and wants. If a parent has multiple children, this planning should include them all. Sadly, siblings often perceive each other as taking advantage of parents for financial gain. Even more sadly, some children do indeed take financial advantage of elders. A family group working together can benefit both parents and children, with the hope that the joys and hardships of caring for parents will be shared between siblings.

Seeking Help

It is often a good idea to enlist the services of a geriatric care manager. These professionals generally possess a wealth of information about available services and programs, and can provide support to elders and children alike. A care manager can also assist with admission to an assisted-living or nursing facility, if and when that becomes necessary. They will have ideas and strategies to share about every aspect of elder care, from financial considerations to mental health resources; from medication management to respite for caregivers.

The plan must focus on parents’ needs. These will almost always include transportation, medical care, dietary needs, hygiene, assistance with finances or record keeping, and household duties. The plan should also include possible avenues to recognize and adapt to parents’ changing needs, because medical issues may increase, and additional services may become required. Some ideas or services that families find helpful include adult day-care facilities, permanent or temporary institutionalization, or perhaps even moving parents between siblings.

The needs of parents, however, are not the only consideration. Children caring for aging parents may become depressed or overwhelmed, so any well-thought-out care plan must also include support for caregivers.

These caregivers often need counseling, particularly those caring for a parent with dementia, which comes with its own unique set of demands and challenges. There are many counselors and support groups that can help caregivers realize they are not alone, help to deal with ongoing or changing issues at home, and preserve their own mental and physical health. Additionally, paid home care may be a good supplement to care from family members, when the primary caregivers need respite.

Financial Matters

Financial planning is also a crucially important part of the considerations. Often, caregiver children may need to use the Family Medical Leave Act to take a leave of absence from employment. Some may even stop working in order to stay home and provide care for the aging parent. The family may wish to meet with an attorney and draw up a written agreement where parents will financially compensate children for care. These ‘parental-care agreements’ can be an important tool to use when an elder is staying at home.

Finally, be ready to recognize that in-home care from children may not be possible or appropriate for every family. In some cases, it is simply not possible to avoid a nursing home. This may be due to financial considerations, extensive care needs that a child cannot provide, or some combination thereof. Institutionalization in a nursing home is generally quite expensive, and can cost upwards of $10,000 per month in some cases.

It is heartbreaking to realize that a lifetime of savings may be wiped out by long-term-care expenses. There are, however, strategies that families may use to cope with the expense.

Faced with a health crisis and the possibility of nursing-home care, many families are tempted to transfer money from parents to children as soon as illness strikes. Such a transfer is not an effective way of securing family assets. In many cases, any transfer of funds from the elder will commence a five-year waiting period for federal and/or state long-term-care benefits. With very rare exceptions, this five-year waiting period applies to all elders who have made a transfer, regardless of the value of the gift or the intention behind it.

Long-term-care insurance is becoming more and more appealing as a means to protect assets in the event of institutionalization. Generally, this insurance may be used to cover or defer the cost of a nursing-home, or even to pay for in-home care. Some insurance companies may even combine life insurance, annuity, and long-term-care benefits within a single policy.

Those considering purchasing a long-term-care insurance policy should consider all the risks and benefits. Those will be determined by income, ability to pay premiums, and the value of other assets that the family wishes to preserve. The need for long-term-care insurance has become so prevalent that it should likely be considered a ‘required’ policy, similar to life, homeowner’s, and disability insurance. It is very important to have a trusted agent review elders’ financial situation carefully to ensure the proper amount of insurance coverage is purchased. A policy with at least five years of coverage may make it possible for elders to gift away some assets upon entering a nursing home.

Their care would then be covered by the insurance policy for the next five years, and upon termination of that insurance coverage, the elders will then potentially qualify for Medicaid. This type of planning must be done very carefully, preferably with the advice of a trusted elder-law attorney possessing specific knowledge and experience.

Plan Ahead

If you foresee a situation arising in which your parent will need your care, begin planning as soon as possible to assess the needs of all parties, hopefully before a crisis demands immediate action. This will bring peace of mind to you and your parents, and will assure the best possible chance of successful planning, health, and happiness for parents and children alike.

Attorney Hyman Darling is chair of Bacon Wilson’s Estate Planning and Elder Law departments. His areas of expertise include all areas of estate planning, probate, and elder law. He is a frequent lecturer on various estate-planning and elder-law topics at the local and national levels; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

Insurance Center of New England (ICNE), one of the largest privately owned independent insurance agencies in the Northeast, has announced the appointment of four new staff members:
Marie Rosema has been named marketing coordinator. She earned her master’s degree in marketing management and holds a bachelor’s degree in graphic design and marketing;
David Farwell has been named account manager in ICNE’s Small Business Unit. He is a certified commercial lines coverage specialist and holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice;
Mary Leveille has been named benefits administrator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in health science; and
Colleen Caban has been named personal lines account manager. She is a licensed insurance broker for personal lines.
“As an independent insurance agency, we put the needs of individuals, families and businesses first,” said William Trudeau, president and CEO of Insurance Center of New England. “We are independent agents for more than two dozen insurance carriers, but we represent our customers, working as their advocate and advisor in the often-complex world of insurance. We are proud to add Marie, Dave, Mary, and Colleen to our staff to continue our commitment to putting customer needs first.” ICNE is headquartered in Agawam and has six other locations throughout the state.

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University Products Inc. (UPI), manufacturer and distributor of archival quality storage products for museums, libraries, and archives worldwide, announced the realignment of its management team:

John Adamson

John Adamson

Bob Boydston

Bob Boydston

• Chief Financial Officer John Adamson, who joined UPI in 1995 and has worked in sales and marketing, human resources, and accounting, has been appointed president of the company and will be charged with coordinating and implementing the future direction of the company;
• Company founder David Magoon will continue as chairman of the board;
Scott Magoon will continue as CEO; and
Bob Boydston, who joined the company in 1976, will remain as senior vice president and is also chief operating officer of the corporation.
University Products is a privately owned business and manufacturer and distributor of archival quality materials. Museums, libraries, historical societies, archives, and similar institutions are among the company’s worldwide clients. UPI offers products for conservation, restoration, and preservation of books, photos, documents, collectibles, textiles, artwork, artifacts, and natural-history specimens.  University Products is also the manufacturer of Lineco brands, sold and distributed worldwide by art and framing retailers.

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The Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced that John Ritenour, chairman of Insurance Office of America (IOA), has been unanimously elected to the Hall’s board of trustees. He will serve as one of 33 members, beginning a three-year term immediately. “It is an honor to be named to the board of trustees and to represent the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” Ritenour said. “I look forward to working with the highly talented and prestigious group that guides the Hall, including many legends of the sport and the outstanding roster of civic and business leaders, such as Chairman Jerry Colangelo and President and CEO John Doleva and his accomplished staff.” Ritenour and his wife, Valli, founded Insurance Office of America in Florida in 1988 with a vision to have an organization that gave ownership to its sales associates. The company now boasts more than 225 sales partners and more than 600 employees who claim ownership. IOA has grown from $188,000 in revenue the first year to more than $120 million today. “The Basketball Hall of Fame has had a tremendous relationship with IOA for a number of years,” said Doleva. “As a well-respected businessman, philanthropist, and fan of the game, John Ritenour will be an excellent addition to our board of trustees.” The trustees are responsible for preserving the fundamental mission and financial well-being of the Basketball Hall of Fame. They serve as ambassadors for the Hall, promoting its core mission, which is to celebrate the greatest moments and people in basketball. Made up of individuals that work in or have worked in the game, as well as business leaders that have supported the game, the board also elects all governors of the Hall.

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First Connecticut Bancorp Inc., the publicly owned holding company of Farmington Bank, announced the election of John Green to the respective boards of directors of the corporation and the bank. “John’s extensive experience as both a leader of a successful, multi-generational family business and a tireless volunteer for many nonprofit organizations makes him a wonderful addition to our boards of directors,” said John Patrick Jr., chairman of the board of directors of First Connecticut Bancorp and chairman, president, and CEO of Farmington Bank. “In addition, John’s leadership of a successful retail business in today’s changing retail climate will be a valuable asset in the boardroom as we continue Farmington Bank’s organic growth strategy.” Green graduated from Boston College in 1978 and from the Gemological Institute of America in 1979. He earned the titles of registered jeweler and certified gemologist appraiser with the American Gem Society in 1981. In 1992, he was elected president and CEO of Lux Bond & Green. Today, Lux Bond & Green, established in 1898 by Green’s great-grandfather, has grown to seven locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts with more than 100 employees. Green has served on many nonprofit organizations and leadership positions within the Hartford community, including the Connecticut Historical Society, Old State House, Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, Connecticut Science Center, Bushnell Park Foundation, TheaterWorks, Hartford Ballet, Hartford Downtown Council, Young Presidents Organization, Connecticut Business and Industry Assoc., and Connecticut Bank & Trust Co. Currently, he serves as treasurer on the Saint Francis Hospital Foundation and a member of the economic-development committee of the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce.

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Berkshire Hills Bancorp Inc. has appointed Ron MacDonald to the position of senior vice president, corporate auto sales leader. MacDonald joins Berkshire from First Niagara Bank, where he served as first vice president, national sales manager, focused on expanding the indirect auto finance business across the Northeast. He has more than 30 years of experience in the automotive business, including previous roles at TD Bank as the national sales manager for auto finance and various positions within the auto-dealer community. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire. “I am excited to have Ron join the bank and take on a leadership role in expanding our prime indirect auto unit,” said Sean Gray, executive vice president and head of Retail Banking. “With his extensive auto-lending relationships and experience across New England, he is the right person to expand on the successful platform Berkshire has established in New York. Ron will be leading Berkshire’s indirect team, providing strategic direction to develop and expand relationships throughout our footprint, with a focus on building long-term partnerships and managing the secondary marketing of this product. This is another example of our commitment to ongoing leadership recruitment and revenue diversification, and we look forward to profitable growth from this business line.”

•••••

Mary-Anne DiBlasio

Mary-Anne DiBlasio

Marge Pietras, founder of All About You, LLC, has appointed Mary-Anne DiBlasio chief operating officer of the eight-year-old home-care company. All About You has steadily grown since its inception. “With DiBlasio now as part of the team, we are excited to see the company expand its reach in an ever-growing market where families are keeping their loved ones at home and we, of course, are here to support them in those efforts,” Pietras said. “With her experience recruiting and marketing, we are focused on delivering the confidence of quality care to directly meet the ebb and flow of the market needs.” DiBlasio comes with years of healthcare experience in both elder care and staffing, and Pietras said both will provide value to the company’s mission.

•••••

Michael Ipekdjian

Michael Ipekdjian

Holyoke Medical Center has appointed Michael Ipekdjian as the hospital’s director of Transitional Care/Case Management.
With vast experience in nursing and case management in the community-hospital setting, Ipekdjian will lead HMC’s transitional care and case-management programs. In this role, he will oversee the hospital’s registered nurses and social workers, and communicate with internal and external partners to improve case management and care coordination. “Mike brings the leadership and vision necessary to help HMC achieve the highest levels of patient care,” said Spiros Hatiras, president and CEO of Holyoke Medical Center and Valley Health Systems Inc. “We are confident in his ability to leverage his case-management experience to ensure that patients can access a full scope of community services across the continuum.”
Added Ipekdjian, “joining HMC is a tremendous professional opportunity. I look forward to working with a highly committed team of colleagues to ensure that patients can access complete, comprehensive healthcare and the important community resources that contribute to quality healthcare.” Most recently, Ipekdjian served as case-management supervisor at Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College, Pa, where he coordinated the day-to-day operations of the Case Management department. He managed 21 full-time employees, including case managers and RN nurse navigators/transitional-care nurses. He coordinated with community agencies to facilitate communication and assure continuity of care, and reviewed and developed readmission programs and chronic-disease-management metrics. As that medical center’s MSICU case manager, he planned, coordinated, and facilitated the care and transition of patients through two intensive-care units Ipekdjian is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, earning both his associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing. He is pursuing an MBA in healthcare management at Western Governors University and is expected to graduate in 2016.

Daily News

EASTHAMPTON — Marge Pietras, founder of All About You, LLC, has appointed Mary-Anne DiBlasio chief operating officer of the eight-year-old home-care company.

All About You has steadily grown since its inception. “With DiBlasio now as part of the team, we are excited to see the company expand its reach in an ever-growing market where families are keeping their loved ones at home and we, of course, are here to support them in those efforts,” Pietras said. “With her experience recruiting and marketing, we are focused on delivering the confidence of quality care to directly meet the ebb and flow of the market needs.”

DiBlasio comes with years of healthcare experience in both elder care and staffing, and Pietras said both will provide value to the company’s mission.

Business of Aging Sections
Innovative Method Helps Caregivers Engage with Clients with Dementia

Christina Vernon

Christina Vernon shows off just a few of the items she may include in ‘engagement boxes.’

As the over-65 generation is set to dramatically expand, so will the number of Americans suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. For those struggling with the cognitive and memory loss associated with these conditions, it’s beneficial to keep their minds active as much as possible. But how? Research by an intern at Homewatch Caregivers into a concept called ‘engagement boxes’ is setting a local standard for helping people with dementia hang on to memory, identity, and quality of life.

Christina Vernon calls it the “beach box.”

Inside are dozens of items that evoke the seashore — a jar of sand, a toy shovel and rake, a plastic bucket, a miniature beach ball, collections of seashells and sea glass, even a CD of beach-themed music.

To the average person, this array might evoke memories of a pleasant day soaking in the sun and the surf. But to someone suffering from dementia, the beach box may be nothing less than a catalyst for recovered memories and identity.

And it’s only one of dozens of such ‘engagement boxes’ that Vernon, a social-work student at Elms College, has carefully assembled for Homewatch Caregivers in West Springfield, where she works part-time, with the goal of focusing the minds of dementia patients through sensory stimulation and memory retention.

“These boxes hold items that trigger memories based on the five senses and promote conversation with people with dementia. It keeps them connected to conversation and lets them enjoy moments where they remember the past,” said Vernon.

For example, one brightly colored box might contain an old pair of white gloves, a child’s book of nursery rhymes, a small tea set, a beaded purse, and a jar of cold cream. “We might begin the activity by asking the client, ‘did you ever have a tea set?’ It may surprise you what your loved one comes out with.”

Sensory activities, she explained, involve many parts of the brain, including emotional, motor, and cognitive areas. They can allow someone with dementia to reawaken personal memories and help maintain the person’s quality of life, increase engagement with loved ones, and improve mood, behavior, and cognitive functions.

The key is to make sure the activities and conversations between caregiver and client are meaningful and individualized for each family.

“Nobody else is doing this, exactly,” said Judy Yaffe, co-owner of Homewatch Caregivers. “They’re very specialized for every client we’re working with. What happens is, we do a client history, get to know them a little more. We find out what they like and don’t like.”

Hence, the beach box would be ideal for a client who used to enjoy the beach or water activities. Other themed boxes contain baby-care items, art supplies, and vintage jewelry and toys — and Vernon often mixes and matches items to create individualized boxes to bring to clients. Caregivers engage the client with the items during visits, and, afterward, complete assessment sheets detailing what worked and what didn’t.

“The point of developing activities through the use of these boxes is to promote cognitive stimulation as an intervention for people with dementia,” Vernon said, noting that the roots of the philosophy can be traced back to 1950s research into ‘reality orientation,’ which was developed in response to confusion and disorientation in older patients in hospital settings.

Sensory exercises like the boxes Vernon maintains at Homewatch are coming more to the forefront in elder care as demographics are trending dramatically older. In short, Americans are living longer than ever before, with the massive Baby Boom generation heading into its golden years, and the number of patients with dementia — and, therefore, demand for services to assist them — are on the rise.

“Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s and dementia are going to increase,” Yaffe said. “We’re looking at a Baby Boomer tsunami.”

Engaging the Past

Engagement with dementia clients takes a variety of forms, Vernon said, showing off a pack of picture cards she uses during visits. She also shared a video of a session with a client in the early stages of dementia. Holding up a picture of stacks of coins,” she asks the client, “what is this?”

“It’s money.”

“Do you have money?”

“No.”

“Where is your money?”

“The children took it.”

“The children took it? How many children? A boy or a girl?”

“Girls. The girls took it.”

“The girls took it. Hmm,” Vernon says, while switching to a card with a picture of a game of jacks. “Did your girls ever like to play with these?”

And so on — each image, each conversation pathway leading to another cue to engage the client. The boxes Vernon has assembled take the concept a step farther, by providing something to touch, feel, hear, even smell, in addition to viewing.

“She did this as a project for her school, an internship she developed,” Yaffe told BusinessWest.

“I was responsible to do a full research project for the company I was interning for,” Vernon said, referring to Homewatch. “Basically, I found myself working with dementia clients. So I decided to do my research on sensory stimulation boxes and memory.”

Judy Yaffe

Judy Yaffe, with a few of Homewatch Caregivers’ dozens of engagement boxes, says matching boxes with clients is a matter of learning their history, likes, and dislikes.

She bought several boxes worth of items on her own to test the concept. “I visited clients daily with boxes and researched what worked and what didn’t work. At the end of 16 weeks, [Homewatch] offered me a position 10 hours a week to create this program and run with it. It’s been very exciting.”

Since then, Yaffe has purchased most of the items for subsequent boxes. They include a collection of vintage toys, like a yo-yo and an original Slinky; to a “baby box” ideal for clients who love children; and a box of clip-on earrings from the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s, which Vernon brings to a client who loves jewelry. “I made it a game; I ask her to put the pairs together, and then ask if she wants to try them on. It just keeps her active.”

In addition to the boxes, Homewatch has a growing collection of books, DVDs, and CDs of various genres and topics, all aimed at helping clients with dementia keep their minds stimulated.

“The items aren’t always cheap,” Vernon said. “When I go out, I make sure the client has at least three options, and if those don’t work, I go back and find something that does work.”

Sometimes that involves a bit of role playing. “When you’re working with a dementia client, if you’re comfortable entering their world, it really works,” she said.

Yaffe agreed, noting that each client is at a different place in their disease progression and how far back their memories lie. “We’re looking at where they are in their dementia. It could be back to their childhood, could be back to their first job, and that’s where we go. Entering the client’s world, to us, is really important.”

For clients at less-advanced stages, the more hands-on the activity, the better. “One was an avid artist in sculpture, so we bring him books about sculpture,” Vernon said. “We’ve bought sketch pads and watercolor pastels, just things to keep his mind as active as possible.”

It’s all about giving caregivers tools they can work with, Yaffe said. “We’ve developed quite a library here.”

Peace of Mind

While researching the effectiveness of engagement boxes at an assisted-living facility, interviewing five people over a period of weeks, Vernon — who will graduate in May and go on to pursue her master’s degree at Springfield College — came to understand the detrimental effects of an inactive mind.

“When you’re bored, when you’re not doing anything, when a client is sitting idle, their memories are fading faster than when they’re engaged with someone,” she said. “It’s better for the client’s overall well-being to be engaged. It’s great to see people light up, to see people talk about things based on the items we take out. It’s rewarding work.”

Yaffe said eliminating isolation and loneliness are two of the goals of her agency, and the engagement boxes are now a major component of that — not to mention a practice that family members can continue after a professional caregiver has ended a shift.

“Activities bring pleasure to people with Alzheimer’s,” Vernon told BusinessWest. “Keeping people involved in prior hobbies and interests that once gave them pleasure is important. Family members should take a flexible approach that is broad-based. Read the newspaper, look at books, cook, watch family videos — and remember to concentrate on the process of an activity and not the results. Perhaps develop your own engagement box for your loved one. It’s the joy of doing and discovery that can make the difference in their quality of life.”

Many clients don’t have dementia, but do suffer from some memory impairment, and the boxes — which can be checked out and brought back to Homewatch by families — can be effective tools for them as well.

“It’s really great for a family when they see mom or dad remembering something; it really gives the family a sense of purpose, as well as direction,” Vernon said. “We constantly exchange items and find out what’s working, find out what activities are good for a client.

“A lot of it is based on the individual person,” she continued. “I talk to the client and caregiver, spend an hour getting to know them, and after the initial meeting, I have a greater idea of what I can do to enhance their experience.”

Yaffe said Homewatch has long embraced other forms of sensory engagement with clients, especially music, which the Alzheimer’s Assoc. calls one of the main catalysts to recovering memory.

“We do a lot of music with our clients. If they remember something, it’s usually music from their teenage years, and they often remember it word for word,” she said. “It’s all about engaging people in the moment — but that moment can last the rest of the day for some people, and that’s important. It’s an easy activity if you can engage them.”

Added Vernon, “you see people light up when they hear their music. I think that’s an essential thing. That’s why most of our boxes have a CD with it. For the beach box, there’s beach-themed music. For the baby box, it’s lullabyes, softer music.”

Of course, she reiterated, the best boxes are the ones that engage all the senses. “It’s so worth the time and effort to make life better,” she said. “It works. We’ve validated it, and we know that it works.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Employment Sections
O’Connell Care at Home Tries to Keep Up with Soaring Demand

Danielle Lord

Danielle Lord says home care is in demand, and so are qualified home-care aides and nurses.

Growing up in Holyoke, Fran O’Connell lived with an extended family, including an elderly aunt and grandfather. In those days, the family took care of each other, in sickness or health; no one had heard of home care.

These days, as owner of O’Connell Care at Home in Holyoke, he helps other families take care of their loved ones at home, away from institutional settings, through a broad range of home-care services, in addition to nurse-staffing services for a variety of clients.

Almost three decades after he launched the enterprise in 1987, O’Connell continues to see steady growth in his business, and explosive growth in the home-care industry — growth that’s being held back only by a national shortage in qualified home health aides. That’s because, as people live longer than they used to, and with their caregivers and children (often one and the same) more aware than ever of the care options available to them, demand for home care and other nursing services is only expected to increase.

“Really, there’s such a need in the community for home care,” said Danielle Lord, the company’s vice president of operations, who essentially runs the company’s day-to-day activity. “As the population of Baby Boomers age, more want to stay at home — or where they’re currently at, maybe assisted or independent living — rather than go to a nursing home.”

Lord came on board in 2007 and has seen significant change since then, including a move to larger quarters on Bobala Road in Holyoke; the company plans to move again this year, from Holyoke to Springfield. In addition, it opened a South Deerfield office last year.

“We opened that office to better serve the Franklin County and northern Hampshire County areas. While doing that, we decided to move our Holyoke office to Springfield to better serve Hampden County and southern Hampshire County,” she explained. “Business has tripled in the last five to seven years. We are really growing; there’s such a need in the community. We still could probably grow more, but home health aides and qualified home healthcare workers are so in demand right now.”

That’s the key issue right now for home-care companies — one O’Connell is addressing through an ambitious array of job fairs, recruitment efforts, and in-house training, all with the goal of keeping more Western Mass. seniors living safely and happily at home.

Fertile Ground

Before starting the firm, Lord said, O’Connell was a nurse practitioner who had taken care of his own grandfather at home. After earning his nursing degree from Columbia University in 1984, he returned to Holyoke and discovered that several of his friends had caught the entrepreneurial bug and were opening their own businesses.

While most nurses worked at specific settings, such as hospitals, he simply incorporated himself and started selling himself as a nurse. “If someone needed a nurse for the day, or someone got out of the hospital and needed a private-duty nurse, I did that,” he explained. “Word got out quickly, and I couldn’t do every shift, so I started bringing in friends, and before long I had 10 people subcontracting for me.”

Someone pointed out that O’Connell was essentially running a temp agency, so he took the next step and employed his fellow nurses, and the business was on its way.

“There weren’t home-care services out there in the ’80s, so it started really as a staffing business, then gradually turned to home care,” Lord said — a shift that began when O’Connell started getting calls from the Holyoke Visiting Nurses Assoc. and other organizations that service seniors.

O’Connell found he loved home care, and went on to earn his master’s degree in nursing in 1996 and was later certified as a family nurse practitioner.

Home care encompasses myriad services, Lord said, from basic household help to medication management to transport to appointments. “Primarily, it’s all your activities of daily living, the things you need to do to stay at home. We do homemaking and meal preparation, help people get up, get dressed, take a shower, toileting, all those sort of things.”

Home-care companies typically offer a wide range of time commitments as well, she added. “It’s everything from two hours once a week to help get someone groceries, to around-the-clock care because someone can’t be left alone, for dementia or hospice, or someone who wanders and can’t be left alone. It’s really such a broad spectrum.”

And it’s not just the client who benefits from home care, she added, but their family as well. “We help people figure out how to stay home, where they want to be, but also support other family members. Especially if the husband or wife is declining, we can help the spouse, help the family around the house, make sure they’re not getting overwhelmed.”

The staffing piece of O’Connell Care at Home — such as its contract work with Highland Valley Elder Services and various VNA organizations — is different in some ways, Lord said. “We’re still doing home care in those situations, but they provide the clients and have care plans already written. If an adult day service needs a nurse, we’ll try to staff a nurse. On [student] field trips, we’ll provide a nurse for the day. If a VNA has somebody on vacation and they have higher census and need home health aide, we’ll provide that. So, yes, we do some staffing, but it’s primarily home care.”

Transportation is another facet of the company’s service. “That’s all private pay — we’ll take somebody to the doctor or a family event on the weekend or around the holidays,” she explained. “We’re very busy with that around Christmas; people call us and ask, ‘can you transport my mother to Christmas dinner and then home?’ We have a wheelchair van for that. It’s a popular service around those times.”

Training Days

In fact, all O’Connell’s services are becoming more popular, which keeps the pressure on to continually add more talent. That’s easier said than done, with Forbes and U.S. News & World Report both listing home-care aide as one of the most in-demand jobs in coming years. Simply put, there aren’t enough bodies to meet the need.

“We recruit all the time, and we frequently have job fairs for people interested in the job,” Lord said. “The need for home health aides hinders our growth. Other companies are dealing with the same thing; they’re all looking for qualified workers. I think that’s across the board. We’re fighting now with hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living, independent living, home care, nursing homes. But we’re willing to train our own people. If someone has an interest, we’ll train them. We want to put the best person out there to care for clients — the kind of people I’d want to take care of my own family.”

The reason strikes at the heart of why home care is so important, she went on. “We want to make sure families feel their loved ones are safe at home. We write a care plan for the people we take care of. We learn what this person likes, doesn’t like, and decide who’s the best person we can send. We try to match their interests and send someone they can form a relationship with. Home care aides can take care of people for years, in many cases. They become a really important part of the family and increase their quality of life.

“We’re not perfect at it,” she was quick to add. “We’re honest with people that the first person you get may not be a perfect match, but we’re going to find you someone you end up clicking with — someone they’ll look forward to seeing each day.”

Lord said O’Connell mainly hires people who have been trained as home health aides or CNAs, “but if there is somebody who has other kinds of experience and thinks this is something they want to do, someone who’s caring and compassionate and really wants to take care of older people — because we primarily do elder care — we can offer some training to get them up and running, to become a home health aide.”

Beyond the basics, though, “we’re looking for someone reliable, with good common sense, someone who’s going to get there in a snowstorm,” she went on. “We want someone really caring who considers the needs of their clients and really wants to take care of them and do what’s best for them. They care about the people they’re taking care of.”

O’Connell says he takes pride in seeing people come work for him as CNAs, then go on to get PN or LPN degrees and return as nurses. He stressed that it’s not an easy job, but as a career path, it can be rewarding and — important for job seekers these days — stable.

Lord agreed, and said families appreciate the stability of a reliable home-care nurse or aide.

“We do a lot of training and have a lot of supervision,” she said. “We meet the family, write a care plan, and try to be really thoughtful. We’re trying to make good matches and keep people where they should be — and improve their quality of life.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Departments People on the Move

Robinson Donovan, P.C., announced the promotion of two attorneys to Partner: Jeffrey Trapani, Esq. and Michael Simolo, Esq.

Jeffrey Trapani

Jeffrey Trapani

Mike Simolo

Mike Simolo

Trapani, who joined the firm in 2007, concentrates in civil litigation, including insurance defense, employment law, municipal liability, business litigation, and professional malpractice. He also represents landlords in summary-process actions and housing-discrimination claims, and insurance companies in unfair-settlement claims and coverage issues. “Jeff is highly deserving of this designation,” said Nancy Pelletier, Esq., head of the Litigation Department at Robinson Donovan. “His expertise in civil litigation — both in the courtroom as well as in mediations and arbitrations — is a true asset to our firm.”
Simolo, who joined the firm in 2009 and specializes in corporate and business counseling, estate planning, and litigation, plays a number of roles at Robinson Donovan, including supervising the organized transfer of wealth from clients to their beneficiaries. “Michael has deep knowledge of our shared practice areas and is a constant source of insight,” said Jeffrey Roberts, Esq., managing partner at Robinson Donovan. “He forms great relationships with his clients, getting to know their circumstances and helping them develop the kind of foresight that is beneficial for them in the long run.”
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Monson Savings Bank recently announced three promotions:
Robert Chateauneuf

Robert Chateauneuf

Corinne Sawyer

Corinne Sawyer

Robert Chateauneuf has been promoted to Vice President, Commercial Loan Officer. He joined Monson Savings Bank in 2012 as assistant vice president and is a key member of the bank’s commercial-lending team. He possesses indepth knowledge of the Western Mass. small-business marketplace and is a trusted advisor to business customers. He is a member of the 2014 class of BusinessWest’s 40 Under Forty, and is a graduate of UMass Amherst;
Corinne Sawyer has been promoted to Vice President, Business Development Officer. She joined Monson Savings Bank in 2001 and was promoted to assistant vice president in 2007. She works with the bank’s business customers to optimize cash flow, financial workflow, and efficiency using the bank’s deposit, cash-management, and eBanking products. She serves on the board of directors of the East of the River Five Town Chamber of Commerce and is a graduate of Elms College;
Dodie Carpentier

Dodie Carpentier

Dodie Carpentier has been promoted to Human Resources Officer. She joined Monson Savings Bank in 2006 as assistant branch manager and was promoted to branch manager in 2008. In 2012 she assumed a dual role as branch manager and education coordinator. With her growing interest in training and HR, she obtained certification in Supervision in Banking and Human Resources Management from the Center for Financial Training. She was awarded the position of human resources officer after an extensive search to replace her predecessor, Elaine Grimaldi, who retired last year.
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Matthew Boilard

Matthew Boilard

The local, family-owned-and-operated supplier of building supplies A. Boilard Sons Inc., announced that Matthew Boilard has joined the family business. His appointment as Sales Associate continues a legacy of family leadership, now in its fourth generation. “This company has always been a part of my life, and I look forward to adding my own outside perspective to the business,” he said. “I’m proud to have an opportunity to be part of a family business, and my goals are to grow the business and look for new opportunities to help it succeed.” Boilard is a 2011 graduate of Bentley University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in corporate finance and accounting.
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Jewish Geriatric Services has named Anne Thomas Vice President of Residential Services and Administrator of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home. Thomas brings more than 25 years of diverse experience in elder healthcare to this position. She will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Joint Commission-accredited, 200-bed, long-term-care and short-term-rehabilitation facility located in Longmeadow, and will also oversee management at Ruth’s House Assisted Living and Genesis House. Before joining the nursing home, Thomas served as the executive director and administrator of Hebrew Senior Life in Dedham, the largest provider of elder care in the Boston metropolitan area. In this role, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of more than 500 employees and 268 residents and their families, and was responsible for all aspects of financial and clinical outcomes. She also spearheaded the opening of a state-of-the-art healthcare center in the small-house model of care, which honors resident choice and quality of life. Prior to this, Thomas served as vice president/assistant administrator of Schervier Nursing Care Center, a member of the Bon Secours Health Care system, in Riverdale, N.Y.; and director of Chelsea Adult Day Health Care Center in New York City. Thomas is a member of Leading Age Massachusetts, the American College of Nursing Home Administrators, and the Assoc. of Health Care Executives. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College in New York, and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College in Rhode Island. She is licensed as a nursing-home administrator and social worker, and is certified as a yoga instructor.
•••••
Dr. Holly Michaelson

Dr. Holly Michaelson

Dr. Holly Michaelson of Cooley Dickinson Medical Group General Surgical Care was among 1,640 initiates from around the world who recently became fellows of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). Michaelson received a medical doctorate from Temple University Medical School and completed a general surgical residency at Drexel University College of Medicine. She earned board certification from the American Board of Surgery in 2005, and is the director of minimally invasive and robotic surgery at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. Michaelson has a strong professional interest in advanced minimally invasive procedures, particularly surgeries of the colon and gastrointestinal tract as well as breast surgery. She holds membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. The American College of Surgeons honored new initiates during its convocation ceremony at the college’s 2014 annual Clinical Congress in San Francisco. By meeting the college’s stringent membership requirements, fellows of the college earn the right to use the designation FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after their names. An applicant for fellowship must be a graduate of an approved medical school; must have completed advanced training in one of the 14 surgical specialties recognized by the college; must possess certification by an American surgical specialty board or its Canadian equivalent; and must have been in practice for at least one year at the time of his or her application. Before admission into fellowship, the surgeon must further demonstrate ethical fitness and professional proficiency, and his or her acceptance as a fellow of the college must be approved by three-fourths of its board of regents. The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient.
•••••
The Gray House inducted Teresa Spaziani to a three-year term on its board of directors at its January board meeting. Also elected were four new officers for one-year terms:
Michael Walsh, President;
David Chase, Vice President;
Paul Mitus, Treasurer; and
Candace Pereira, Secretary.
Spaziani is a quality-assurance manager at the Children’s Study Home in Springfield. She has held that position since February 2014. Previously, she was its community relations and outreach manager. Spaziani holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Western New England University, graduating magna cum laude in 2012. Walsh was the current board president and was re-elected for another one-year term. He is an adjunct instructor in Political Science at Westfield State University and a consultant and legal advisor at MIRA Associates. Chase has more than 20 years of banking experience. He is a vice president and commercial lender at Hampden Bank in Springfield. Mitus previously served as vice president. He has 25 years of banking experience and is currently a portfolio manager at Hampden Bank. Pereira has more than 10 years of banking experience. She is a commercial-portfolio loan officer for Farmington Bank in West Springfield. The Gray House is a small, neighborhood human-service agency located at 22 Sheldon St. in the North End of Springfield. Its mission is to help neighbors facing hardships to meet their immediate and transitional needs by providing food, clothing, and educational services in a safe, positive environment.
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The American Assoc. of Community Colleges has selected HCC professor emerita, alumna, and major donor Elaine Marieb for its 2015 Outstanding Alumni awards. Marieb taught anatomy and physiology at Holyoke Community College for 25 years after receiving her Ph.D. in zoology from UMass. While teaching, she enrolled in HCC’s Registered Nursing program, earning her associate degree. Her teaching and education led her to write a series of anatomy and physiology textbooks that have gone on to become international bestsellers. Last year, Marieb donated $1 million toward HCC’s Building Healthy Communities fund-raising campaign, which is supporting two building projects at the college, a new Center for Health Education on Jarvis Avenue, and the Center for Life Sciences on campus. The AACC award recognizes community-college alumni for their career achievements, philanthropic contributions, and inspirational impact.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Jewish Geriatric Services has named Anne Thomas vice president of Residential Services and Administrator of the Leavitt Family Jewish Home.

Thomas brings more than 25 years of diverse experience in elder healthcare to this position. She will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the Joint Commission-accredited, 200-bed, long-term-care and short-term-rehabilitation facility located in Longmeadow, and will also oversee management at Ruth’s House Assisted Living and Genesis House.

Before joining the nursing home, Thomas served as the executive director and administrator of Hebrew Senior Life in Dedham, the largest provider of elder care in the Boston metropolitan area. In this role, she oversaw the day-to-day operations of more than 500 employees and 268 residents and their families, and was responsible for all aspects of financial and clinical outcomes. She also spearheaded the opening of a state-of-the-art healthcare center in the small-house model of care, which honors resident choice and quality of life.

Prior to this, Thomas served as vice president/assistant administrator of Schervier Nursing Care Center, a member of the Bon Secours Health Care system, in Riverdale, N.Y.; and director of Chelsea Adult Day Health Care Center in New York City.

“Anne brings to Jewish Geriatric Services a wealth of administrative and clinical experience across a full spectrum of elder-care services,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of JGS. “Her experience in implementing innovative, person-centered care will be invaluable as we expand and enhance services through Project Transformation, our program to bring the small-house model of care here.”

Thomas is a member of Leading Age Massachusetts, the American College of Nursing Home Administrators, and the Assoc. of Health Care Executives. She holds a master’s degree in social work from Hunter College in New York, and a bachelor’s degree in social work from Providence College in Rhode Island. She is licensed as a nursing-home administrator and social worker, and is certified as a yoga instructor.

DBA Certificates Departments

The following Business Certificates and Trade Names were issued or renewed during the month of December 2014.

AGAWAM

Alpha Nine
23 Losito Lane
Daniel Renaud

Bessette Hardscapes
76 Pheasant Run Circle
Gene R. Bessette

Best CPR Certifications
313 Springfield St.
Thomas Devine

C. Trimboli Landscaping
49 Center St.
Cosmo Trimboli

M. Perry Appraisal Services
57 Hunting Lane
Michael Perry

CHICOPEE

Boutin Rental Properties
726 Chicopee St.
Robert Boutin

Northeast Industrial Diesel
63 Dorrance St.
William Heyn

Santana’s Kung Fu Studio
4 Center St.
Maria Santana

GREENFIELD

Aromatic Fillers
127 Leyden Road
Todd Green

Art’s Tire Inc.
10 Silver St.
James LaFleur

Greenfield Garden Cinemas
361 Main St.
George Gohl

Novelli Computer Consulting
25 Pine St.
Thomas Novelli

Padula Brothers Inc.
191 Shelburne Road
Caroline Mansfield

Pristine Orientals
16 Butternut St.
William Noyes

HOLYOKE

Best Buy Mobile
50 Holyoke St.
Todd G. Hartman

Herrera Auto Sales
395 Maple St.
Jose Herrera

Holly’s Nail
2257 Northampton St.
Loan Tran

Jay’s Auto Repair
170 Main St.
Jesus Vargas

Jiordany’s Grocery
301 High St.
Veronica Roman

MC Transportation
219 Elm St.
Manuel Contin

Sam’s Quality Motors
170 Main St.
Samuel Rosa

Twin Stop
625 Homestead Ave.
Rajendra I. Swadia

LUDLOW

C.O.P. Transportation
270 West St.
Frank Arduino

Purely Caribbean Sunless Tanning
271 East St.
Katie Schebel

Studio Dic
48 Pine St.
Denise L. Catrogno

The Luxy
200 Center St.
Lisa Tereso

PALMER

Griswold Glass & Aluminum
1184 Park St.
Jeffrey Griswold

Lasting Impressions
1552 North Main St.
Mark Corbett

Walnut Street Café
8 Walnut St.
Doris Theodore

SOUTHWICK

Athena’s by Bev
25 Gillette Ave.
Beverly Labombard

Cote Property Maintenance
68 Granville Road
David Cote

Extreme Custom Embroidery
25 Gillette Ave.
Beverly Labombard

Helping Hands Elder Care
268 Feeding Hills Road
James Bouley

J & R Consulting
8 Pearl Brook Road
Janet Brodalski

Jimmy’s Pizza, LLC
81 Point Grove Road
Travis Softic

New England Peddler
23 Feeding Hills Road
Michael Albro

Tastefully Tan
610 College Highway
Angela Rivera

Whalley Precision Inc.
28 Hudson Dr.
John Whalley

SPRINGFIELD

ABC Supply Company
270 Rocus St.
American Builders

Acacio M. Serranzina
88 Enfield St.
Acacio M. Serranzina

Admiral Building Products
75 Page Blvd.
Todd Buehl

AsapcompuTerracenet
414 Walnut St.
Aaron Blanine

Asian Bazaar
607 Dickinson St.
Yasmin Siddiqui

Asian Market
19 Pomona St.
Truong Nguyen

Atwater Associates
140 Atwater Terrace
Carmen Rosa

B & R Leasing, Inc.
622 Cottage St.
Faramarz Bahrehmand

BMT Lock and Key
306 Hermitage Dr.
Walter Kulas

Bradco Supply
270 Rocus St.
American Builders

BTJ Transport
37 Newport St.
Traceyann Anderson

Cabo Fashion and Footwear
795 Liberty St.
Edwin Acevedo

Fara Leasing, Inc.
622 Cottage St.
Faramarz Bahrehmand

Felix Auto Sales
237 Dickinson St.
John DeCesare

WESTFIELD

Angela’s Hair Salon
78 Franklin St.
Yevgeniya Gnidenko

Bee Tree Acres
67 Old Quarry Road
Bee Tree Acres

CJ’s Electronic Cigarettes
26 North Elm St.
Round of Nine Inc.

Granddaddy Frank’s Barbeque
57 Katherine St.
Claude G. Stanley Jr.

Meadowbrook Antiques
658 Montgomery Road
Timothy J. Crane

Pat’s Platoon
350 Elm St.
Joshua M. Kelsey

Law Sections
Now Is the Time to Review Documents and Create an Action Plan

By LISA L. HALBERT, Esq.

Lisa L. Halbert

Lisa L. Halbert

As the end of 2014 approaches, articles are published that recap the year’s events (“the best of…,” “the worst of…”), or that encourage changes in behavior (how-tos) for 2015. Among that genre are the top 100 videos, 10 most influential people, and my perennial favorite, “how to lose that first 10 (or 50) pounds this year.”

In this respect, the field of elder law and estate planning is not terribly different. The new-year celebration is an opportunity to review legal documents and consider an action plan for estate-planning needs during the coming year.

Estate-planning documents need to be reviewed at least every five years and also upon major life events, to make sure they continue to be relevant. Even attorneys can neglect this periodic review, and as this article is written, I am reminded to pull out my own documents and confirm that my wishes are properly reflected. As for those who do not yet have documents, read below for the potentially serious consequences of not having documents in place.

What follows is a list of estate-planning documents, action steps, and paperwork to consider, and advice for the coming year.

Prepare a Comprehensive List of Assets

Make this less daunting by doing it in stages. When next balancing your checking account, before you get up from your desk, start an asset list and add all bank accounts and possibly real estate. Then set a time to consider what you hold in securities, retirement funds, insurances (life or disability), annuities, business valuations, and tangible personal property, such as art, furniture, and jewelry. Make a column and indicate who owns the asset, whether it is held in your name alone or jointly with another. See the section about beneficiary designations for further information.

This list should also include any assets held in a trust. Sharing this list with your estate-planning attorney is a good beginning point. Understand that, after your estate plan is fully developed, the titling of your assets may change to accommodate the plan.

Durable Power of Attorney

The DPA allows you to appoint people to assist with financial management of assets in your name while you are alive. The person who creates or grants the power is referred to as the ‘principal,’ while the person who is appointed to act on behalf of another is sometimes referred to as the ‘attorney-in-fact’ (AIF). The principal gets to determine the amount of authority to grant the AIF, with the exact terms set forth in the DPA. The benefit to a DPA is that you, not a court, choose who can have access to your financial information. A DPA can allow the AIF to access your assets even though you are fully capable of thinking and acting for yourself (for example, as a convenience for you while away on vacation), or it can be written to allow access only if and when you start to fail mentally.

A DPA does not change the ownership of any asset or account. It merely allows another to act as your fiduciary — to step into your shoes and make decisions as your agent. If an asset is owned by you alone, then at your death, the authority of the AIF terminates and the asset then goes through your will, unless there is a beneficiary designation attached to it.

Whether a copy of the DPA is immediately provided to your appointees or held to be distributed at a later time is a discussion to have with your attorney. Remember, if no one knows about it, or you fall ill and cannot communicate where the document is located, court action might still result.

The issue always comes up about whom to appoint and how many to serve at any one time. Should it be one person, or two people serving together? And if two serve, do they need to act together, or may they act unilaterally? From a purely administrative perspective, it is easiest to identify one person to act alone. But in families where there may be friction, or differing skills in terms of money management, then appointing two people to act may be the best choice for that particular family.

Decisions about whether to require two signatures or one are made by the principal after considering the benefits and burdens of both choices.

If a DPA does not exist or cannot be located, and you are unable to manage your financial affairs, then without a DPA in place the family may find itself needing to go to court to obtain a conservatorship over the accounts. In the alternative, the matter might linger and not be addressed in a timely manner. For example, through oversight, a deadline may be missed to pay a premium for life or disability insurance, causing the policy to lapse. Either way, the financial consequence could be much greater than the cost associated with having the document prepared and gaining control of who has access to the accounts.

Healthcare Proxy

Review your HCP to confirm that it identifies those you would want making healthcare decisions for you if and when you can no longer make or communicate them on your own. List appointees to serve in consecutive order, and make it long enough so that it stands the test of time. Discuss the prudence of additional provisions. For example, do certain religious beliefs impact healthcare decisions, and how should they be articulated? Would you allow certain drugs to be administered that might otherwise require court approval? Do you want your healthcare agent to choose a nursing home for you if it becomes necessary?

Once signed, provide your HCP to your healthcare providers and other physicians and hospitals. Some people keep a copy on the refrigerator, in the car, in their luggage, or with other important papers. And, of course, provide a copy of your HCP to those you have appointed as decision makers.

Remember, an HCP is not a medical release that allows an appointee to look into your private medical records or make changes to current treatments. Rather, a physician or certain nurses must invoke the HCP when you are no longer able to make informed decisions about your healthcare, or cannot communicate them. And just because the HCP is invoked does not necessarily mean that you do not have capacity to handle your own finances or manage other contracts.

If you have a surgical procedure, remember to bring a copy of your HCP with you, or ask the facility if you can e-mail a copy for their records. Many medical facilities provide a boilerplate form for completion prior to a procedure. Patients then dutifully fill it in, not necessarily realizing that this new form will revoke a previously signed HCP. It is always better to supply a doctor or hospital with your own HCP document, which will likely be a more considered and thorough document than the hospital’s standard form.

Without an HCP, if healthcare decisions need to be made for you, a court will appoint a guardian. This process takes time and costs money, and you may no longer get to control who is appointed to serve. The benefit of an HCP is that you get to choose those individuals you trust to make decisions for you as you would want for yourself, as opposed to having a court choose.

Massachusetts Medical Orders for Life-sustaining Treatment

The MOLST is a relatively new medical form and not a legal form. It is intended to be used by patients of any age who suffer from an advanced illness. It addresses current medical orders about life-sustaining treatment(s). It involves the medical provider/clinician and the patient, and it is effective as of the time of signing. It serves a different purpose than a HCP. Those with advanced illness or the loved ones of those same people are encouraged to discuss a MOLST with their clinician, or visit molst-ma.org.

Nursing Homes and Long-term-care Facilities

This is one of those cautionary tales that cannot be ignored. Too many times in 2014, clients have come in to ask for assistance in dealing with a collection issue concerning a loved one in an assisted-living residence, nursing home, or similar facility. For example, Barney Rubble arrives in the office stating that an assisted-living facility is looking to collect against his own assets to pay for his friend Fred Flintstone’s stay. It seems that the insurance that might have covered the experience had a glitch and is not paying.

Barney is Fred’s trusted friend and is appointed as Fred’s healthcare agent and AIF. On Fred’s application for admission to the facility, Barney signed as the ‘responsible party,’ because he felt that, since he was helping his friend Fred, he was therefore responsible to make sure Fred’s bills were paid. Although Barney was well-intentioned, in most cases, he missed the mark. While he is the AIF, it is only with respect to using Fred’s funds. Barney never intended to promise to use his own funds.

Before signing any paperwork, slow down and carefully read the application. ‘Responsible party’ frequently means that the person signing is actually financially responsible for the person who is going into the facility. Therefore, the proper way to have completed this area of the form so as to insulate Barney’s assets was: ‘Fred Flintstone by Barney Rubble, his AIF.’ Otherwise, Barney may be setting himself up for the facility to come after his own assets, in addition to Fred’s.

Last Will and Testament

A last will and testament controls assets that are held in your name alone without a designated beneficiary, at your time of death. These are the only assets that go through the probate process. Your will is a road map as to whom you would like to receive your probate assets, so long as it is not illegal.

It can also provide for forgiveness of debt or allow someone temporary use of an asset (such as living in a home until X age, or Y event occurs). Generally, a will allows you to control and determine who inherits your estate at your death. (A surviving spouse and minor children, however, do have certain statutory rights that take priority over the terms of the will, even if you intended to try to disinherit the spouse and/or child.)

When you die, the Mass. Uniform Probate Code (MUPC) controls the probate process. The MUPC is intended to expedite the process and no longer requires as much court intervention or oversight, although court supervision is available where appropriate. For those with new probate matters, be aware that, as of the end of October, a new rule was issued that requires seven days’ notice must be given to the Division of MassHealth before a petition for probate is filed with the court.

While this usually will not pose a problem, compliance is required. Because the MUPC is still relatively new, attorneys continue to identify nuanced changes relative to how the rules are to be implemented. And while the law was intended to be user-friendly and more streamlined, another caution is to seek legal counsel, especially where a decedent dies owning real estate.

If you pass away without a will (referred to as dying ‘intestate’), state law dictates how your assets get distributed. Under the MUPC, if you die intestate and are survived by your spouse and children of both you and your spouse (whether biological or adopted), then your spouse will receive your entire estate, without any portion specifically allocated to the children of the relationship. If there are stepchildren (on the side of the decedent or the spouse), then a different distribution is dictated.

Under the MUPC, your spouse has priority to serve as the personal representative (formerly executor) for your intestate estate. The statute, however, provides that, if your spouse does not want to accept the position, he or she may designate someone else to act, effectively skipping over an adult child who might have anticipated taking on that role. So, while you might not think you have enough assets to have a will prepared, having control and choosing the beneficiaries is likely the best route to go in case that late-bought lottery ticket is found, or a family member inadvertently left you as a beneficiary.

A will can also have some significance prior to your death. During your lifetime, if you become incapacitated and another is put in charge of your assets and financial management, there may be occasions where gifts are appropriate. The AIF or conservator can look to your will in order to figure out who or what entities are most dear to you and help implement some of those dispositions even before you pass away. The will, therefore, may offer some guidance even during your lifetime.

Trust-based Planning

Depending upon your assets, intended beneficiaries, and other information, a trust might be a better option to accomplish your preferred distributions than a will. A trust is a document with three major players — the person who creates it (you, also known as the grantor), the trustee (who could be you and/or others and is the one who actually administers or managers the assets), and the beneficiaries (who could be you and/or others who receive a benefit under the trust). The trust document provides direction as to how you want your assets (and debt) managed, invested, and distributed. It is especially useful if there are minor beneficiaries and you want to know that instructions are followed long-term, or where another needs some long-term financial assistance or management (such as a special or supplementary needs trust.)

This year, irrevocable trusts have become a topic of much discussion among elder-planning attorneys. Irrevocable trusts have been used by elder-planning attorneys as one way to provide the elder ‘income only,’ but save the principal for others. When created, counsel and clients knew that income-only trusts would leave the income exposed and in the sights of MassHealth, and available to pay for care.

This past year, however, MassHealth more frequently required that the principal also be made available to pay for the elder’s care. MassHealth’s position seems based on an interpretation of text that might allow for the trustee to alter or exchange assets within the trust. While there is some myopic interpretation which, when taken out of context, might allow for an elder to receive what was formerly characterized as principal, when considered in total, most of these irrevocable trusts do not allow for such dispositions.

The legal battle continues to heat up, and for the immediate future, an irrevocable income-only trust, where a MassHealth application might someday be required, should be approached with extreme caution.

Beneficiary Designations

Review beneficiary designations on your various accounts to confirm that they remain current and in line with your overall estate plan. Types of assets that frequently carry opportunities for beneficiary designations include insurance, annuity, retirement accounts, and some brokerage accounts (accounts that hold securities and other investments).

Designating a beneficiary completely avoids the asset going through probate, and there may be some income-tax advantages to naming a direct beneficiary. Most people, however, forget that the first-named beneficiary might not outlive them, and do not properly name a contingent beneficiary. Also, if your estate plan is premised on having assets go through your probate estate, but the designations are not changed, then your plan may be defeated.

An estate plan, once completed, may use a blend of assets that are directed to specific beneficiaries via designation, as well as assets that go through probate or a trust. Retirement assets may have a better income-tax benefit if directed to specific individuals or charities (especially if you are looking to save an income-tax bite to the estate), while life insurances might be more appropriate to go through probate. Each client situation is different.

The MUPC effectively revokes certain beneficiary designations to a prior spouse. Therefore, if you are divorced and yet still intend for your ex-spouse to receive assets via a beneficiary designation that has not been changed since the divorce, revisit the designation.

Further, there are many insurance companies that do not yet respect the MUPC and stand by their own rules stating that, where a spouse is named as a beneficiary, even after a divorce the prior designation stands. So, even if your separation agreement holds that the ex-spouse is not a beneficiary, some companies ignore that text. Rather than cause your family unnecessary angst, it is best to affirmatively confirm or change beneficiary designations after a divorce is finalized.

Same-sex Spouses

A year ago, significant ink was used getting the word out that same-sex spouses could qualify for spousal benefits in Massachusetts and under the federal law. While not exactly breaking news, spouses (including same-sex) are once again encouraged to review all financial aspects that might impact their married life. For planning purposes, this impacts your federal income taxes, Social Security benefits, FMLA, and health-insurance coverage.

Retirement benefits from a qualified retirement plan will be required to allow the surviving spouse of a married couple, whether same-sex or not, to withdraw the funds over the surviving spouse’s lifetime. IRAs that allow a spouse to roll over inherited assets into his or her own IRA are now allowed. There are more than 1,000 federal benefits that may be impacted by this ruling. Check beneficiary designations as well as federal tax withholding. By now it should be old news, but I will remind you that same-sex spouses may file joint income-tax returns.

From an estate-planning perspective, we are in the second year that same-sex couples can take advantage of the unlimited marital exemption to transfer assets between spouses during life, as well as at death. For high-wealth couples, ‘portability’ of the estate-tax exemption at the death of the first spouse to a surviving spouse is now allowed. With an estate-tax exemption currently at $5.34 million per spouse (and $5.43 million for 2015), this allows a same-sex married couple to have a combined $10.68 million ($10.86 million for 2015) estate-tax exemption.

While this may not currently impact you, if the surviving spouse wins a large lottery ticket, or comes into money for any other reason even after the first spouse’s death, having elected portability may result in a significant estate-tax savings.

Do-not-resuscitate Order

A DNR is not prepared by your attorney. It is available to be signed in your physician’s office, and it states that, if your heart stops, you do not want extraordinary measures taken to restart it. A DNR is not interpreted to mean that you want to be taken off of medical machinery (and be allowed to die) if you are being kept alive only by such mechanical devices.

Passwords

Regrettably, I am electronically challenged. So, the best advice I can offer is that you need to figure out an appropriate way to track all of your passwords and user ID information, and consider how to leave this information so that your attorney-in-fact or personal representative can access it in the future. There is an old-school view, which is to write it all down and keep it in one place, and there are those who use the cloud or other programs.

Either way, while you still have capacity, think about and organize the information. From experience, the list should include bank accounts, ATM cards, brokerage access, credit and other loans, and even health-related information. Document the answers to applicable security questions.

From a practical perspective, it is frequently very hard for your AIF to establish online access; it is much easier to continue access which you have established. Yet, where many AIFs do not live proximate to the principal, online access is the best solution. So before your memory fades, or an unexpected accident arises, consider whether you want to figure out a solution that makes it much easier for those who might have to assist you.

Important Papers

Organize a filing system for important papers. Whether alphabetical or by category (bank papers, insurance, etc.), consider putting all important papers in one place. Documents to be retained include Social Security cards, copies of birth certificates, and legal documents (will, trust, HCP, DPA, marriage license or divorce decree, and funeral-related paperwork). Include on this list your children or next of kin and their addresses. If you should die, and a non-family member is involved, it makes locating family much easier.

This checklist provides a starting point. For more information, contact an estate-planning professional for a comprehensive review of your plans.


Lisa L. Halbert is an estate-planning, elder-law, and real-estate attorney with the regional law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is especially focused on legal matters relating to elder care, estate planning, and asset protection; (413) 584-1287; baconwilson.com

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Joelle Tedeschi, LPN, has been named executive director of Ruth’s House, an assisted-living facility of Jewish Geriatric Services (JGS).

Tedeschi brings more than 25 years of diverse experience in elder care to this position. She will be responsible for the day-to-day management of the assisted-living community located in Longmeadow. She will also continue to oversee business development at the Leavitt Family Jewish Home, the position she’s held since coming to JGS in July.

Before joining the nursing home, Tedeschi served as the regional director of sales for Golden Living in Canton, Mass., where she was responsible for the sustainable growth of 18 hospice and direct-living centers. Prior to this, she was the regional director of Sales for Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, Ky. She holds a bachelor’s degree in sales and marketing from Massachusetts Bay College in Wellesley.

“Joelle clearly brings us a wealth of business-development experience in senior living,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of JGS. “In addition, she is also a licensed practical nurse, and we feel confident that, under her leadership, Ruth’s House will continue to flourish.”

Business of Aging Sections
Things to Know When Your Child Is Also Your Caregiver

By GINA M. BARRY, Esq.

It is very common for a child to provide care to an aging parent in order to allow the parent to continue to live at home. A child is most commonly the caregiver because the parent will not agree to hire professionals to assist with the activities of daily life. Typically, the parent has concerns regarding privacy, and their child is the only caregiver they will trust.

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

When a child provides care to a parent, it is best to establish a care agreement. A care agreement is a contract that outlines the care to be provided, as well as any payment to be made for that care. The care is typically provided until the parent passes away or is in need of care that cannot be provided at home. Tasks performed by the child usually include personal-care assistance, grocery shopping, meal preparation, accounting services, transportation to and from appointments, housecleaning, and laundry services. It is recommended that the care be paid for on an ongoing basis as the care is actually provided.

The care agreement should set forth the exact services that the child will provide, as well as the location where the services will be provided. The parent’s ‘space,’ as well as any ‘common areas,’ should be detailed. Additionally, the agreement should set forth whether the parent or the child is responsible for paying monthly utility charges, as well as yearly expenses, such as property taxes and homeowner’s insurance. The agreement should also address responsibility for property maintenance, such as needed repairs, mowing the lawn, additional landscaping, and snow removal.

It is crucial to value the services to be provided in the care agreement. Services may be valued as a package or individually. The package rate is useful when the care provided is substantially similar to that of a facility, such as an assisted-living facility or nursing home.

When using the individual pricing method, the child must keep a record of the services performed and receive payment based on the actual amount of service provided. All payments to the child are taxable income to the child and should be reported on the child’s personal income-tax return. In this regard, it is also important to realize that most caregiving children will find their availability to work outside the home greatly reduced or eliminated.

The parent and child should also set forth the circumstances under which the child is willing to provide care for the parent and the terms upon which the agreement may be cancelled. In order to avoid the appearance of an illusory promise on the child’s behalf, the agreement should provide that cancellation will occur only upon the occurrence of specified conditions — for example, if it becomes unsafe to continue to provide care in the home. The agreement should also allow for written amendments, so that the agreement can be changed if the situation changes.

The impact of a care agreement with respect to the parent’s options for financing nursing-home care is substantial. Currently, nursing-home care costs approximately $13,000 per month and is most commonly paid for by accessing long-term-care insurance, privately paying, or obtaining MassHealth benefits.

When applying for MassHealth benefits, MassHealth will ask whether the applicant has made any gifts in the last five years. If gifts are found, MassHealth will assess a penalty that prevents the applicant from obtaining benefits for a certain time period based on the amount of the gift. When assets are transferred to a child as payment for care provided, it may be possible to avoid this penalty, as the money was transferred to pay for the services provided and was not a gift.

It should be noted that caregiver agreements are subject to intense scrutiny by MassHealth. If a MassHealth application is anticipated in the future, the care agreement must be carefully drafted and must take into account MassHealth’s current position as to these agreements.

Although there are many issues to address when establishing a care agreement, outlining the responsibilities of both the child and the parent will prevent most disagreements, as the agreement will lay the framework for success. A successful care agreement will allow the parent to remain at home much longer. In addition, a properly drafted care agreement can be financially beneficial to both the parent and the child. As such, the benefit of having such an agreement in place far outweighs the effort involved in establishing the agreement.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Business of Aging Sections
Armbrook Village Helps Seniors Navigate Stages of Life

By JAMES PALEOLOGOPOULOS

Executive Director Beth Cardillo

Executive Director Beth Cardillo

In the sleepy northwest corner of Westfield lies a winding path marked by a sign that reads “Armbrook Village: A Senior Living Residence.” But that description only tells part of the story.

This modern, 109,000-square-foot structure, which looks like a recently finished condominium complex with its siding, flowerbeds, and bleach-white balconies, is part of a growing wave of senior-living communities that offers older citizens a variety of options along the continuum of aging, its 122 units encompassing independent living, assisted living, and what’s known as Compass Memory Support Neighborhood, which allows residents with memory loss to receive constant treatment and supervision in a secure setting.

The result is an interactive community in the best sense of the word, said Beth Cardillo, executive director.

“We’re not going to get any bigger; we were built to operate at a very manageable size,” she told BusinessWest, adding that the facility, which serves seniors from age 60 to 100, is nearly three-quarters full. “We know everyone in the building. We know everybody’s daughter and son, we know everybody’s grandkids, and we work hard to provide a community atmosphere.”

Armbrook Village was built by East Longmeadow developer Michael McCarthy, along with other investors, in 2012 after he saw the benefits his late mother, Jean, experienced at a senior-living residence in Springfield. However, without any background in elder care or independent-living arrangements, he hired Senior Living Residences (SLR) — a Boston-based company specializing in senior housing operations with a special emphasis on dementia and Alzheimer’s disease — to manage the facility.

Managing 12 communities from Boston to Milford, SLR is affiliated with Boston University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center, and seven of the chain’s communities feature Compass Memory Support Neighborhoods. With most of the residences located in Eastern Mass., Armbrook Village is the only SLR community on the Bay State’s western region, but it operates with the same goal as all the company’s properties — providing cost-effective care to all residents, whether they’re living independently and going to work each day or need assistance getting up in the morning.

Modern Living

For those living in the studio, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom apartments, Armbrook provides perks that allow residents to be totally on their own, “but not completely,” Cardillo said. Those perks include services ranging from emergency pull cords in each unit to transportation to doctor’s appointments.

The facility also makes it a point of encouraging its residents to get out into the community by providing transportation to restaurants, symphonies, and museums, among other destinations throughout the year. Independent-living residents also have access to three meals a day, prepared with an emphasis on ‘brain-healthy’ foods, as part of Armbrook’s affiliation with BU’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center.

According to Cardillo, SLR emphasizes such a diet throughout its communities, with a number of menu items built around a Mediterranean diet of fish, whole grains, and other foods that are both nutrient-rich and contain omega-3 fatty acids, a fat believed to help reduce the risks of dementia.

“Our statistics show it’s good for the brain,” she said. “A lot of olive oil, a lot of vegetables, a lot of fish, a lot of chicken — all studies point to certain herbs and foods not curing dementia, but adding to the mix of prevention.”

Independent-living residents enjoy other amenities as well, with apartments equipped with kitchens, washers and dryers, and walk-in showers. The apartments are designed to be “desirable,” said Cardillo, breaking away from the past industry standard of small, converted rooms.

Armbrook-Village “Years ago, I think, when assisted living became popular, they were taking the place of older buildings, maybe a converted school, a converted monastery. So the rooms were a lot smaller,” she told BusinessWest. “But now, when families are starting to look for apartments for their elders, they’re thinking, ‘just because Mom is 90 doesn’t mean she has to live in a small apartment.’”

Meanwhile, assisted-living residents receive help with many activities of daily living. Among those services are assistance with getting up in the morning, showering, getting dressed, as well as help with taking medication. Three meals a day are provided.

“Our assisted living is almost the same, only a little bit smaller, because they don’t need a full kitchen because we’re supplying the meals,” she explained.

Then there’s the Compass Memory Support Neighborhood, which features everything found in assisted living, plus some additional services. A smaller neighborhood with 25 units, it’s “the world in a smaller place” for residents with certain memory-related disorders, Cardillo said. “It’s a world that’s easier to negotiate, and it’s filled with activities all day long.”

The rooms were designed to be compact, she continued, since a number of residents there have a hard time finding their way around in bigger spaces. At the same time, the neighborhood’s activity rooms were designed to be larger, allowing residents to conduct activities and ensure that they are not isolating themselves in their own rooms, but staying involved in the community.

“We know that, with dementia, structure and socialization are key,” Cardillo said. Part of that socialization includes bringing out residents for art, photography, and adult learning activities, said Brenda Lopes, director of the Compass Memory Support Neighborhood.

“Here at Armbrook, we do a lot of adult learning, including a program called Reconnections,” Lopes said. “In it, we bring the memory-support residents back into the past with, say, imagery of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack or from World War II, and it works to help them connect the past with the future.”

That, along with a number of individualized programs and daily exercise, are among the routines that not only keep the residents active but also work against the effects of dementia and Alzheimer’s.

To enhance their care of residents, SLR involves staff in joint training operations through Boston University and, in Armbrook’s case, participation in a graduate study program with American International College’s occupational-therapy students. Part of a research project conducted by the students, the goal is to have residents in the Memory Care wing increase their daily activities through interacting with music as the AIC students observe its effectiveness and results.

Making Westfield Dementia-friendly

As part of its efforts to improve life for people with memory issues, Armbrook has launched a campaign to make Westfield one of the first ‘dementia-friendly’ communities on the East Coast.

Specifically, inspired by the story of Watertown, Wis. and its own drive to make the town friendlier and safer to those who are experiencing dementia, Cardillo set out earlier this year to coordinate with businesses and departments across Westfield to create an environment where, if an individual with memory loss were to wander into a restaurant or other establishment, staff would know the right steps to handle the situation.

“We’re trying to have more people learn more about dementia, so that, say, if an 85-year-old woman walks into the bank and is very confused, the tellers will be able to know what to do, properly identifying any confusion or memory issues,” Cardillo said. “I would like to do trainings throughout the community and here at Armbrook to teach people a little more about dementia, so that they can embrace it and not be scared by it and have the resources to know what to do.”

In addition to local banks, grocery stores, and other places of business, Cardillo wants to include the city’s police and fire officials, who sometimes find themselves dealing with people, either on the phone or at a scene, with some form of memory loss.

Already, a “virtual dementia tour” has begun involving the Fire Department, said Cardillo, a short (10-15 minutes) explanation of the symptoms of dementia. Hoping to include Noble Hospital and the local senior center, among other organizations, she plans to produce a PowerPoint in the near future as she continues to meet with officials such as the mayor and Chamber of Commerce.

“It’s about giving people the tools they need in order to know what to do when they come across somebody with dementia,” she said — tools her team at Armbrook Village provide to residents every day.

Daily News

LONGMEADOW — Dr. Robert Baevsky, chair of the Jewish Lifecare board of directors, announced that Susan Kline and Stephen Krevalin, longtime volunteers for the organization formerly known as Jewish Geriatric Services, are chairing Project Transformation: A New World of Care, a $9 million capital campaign in support of several projects that will transform elder-care services at Jewish Lifecare.

“Jewish Lifecare has always prided itself on being a progressive, forward-looking organization that continuously engages the ever-changing needs of the elderly,” said Baevsky. “Project Transformation: A New World of Care continues our journey of culture change and person-centered care, as we enhance, build, and expand services and facilities to improve health outcomes, and enhance resident dignity, independence, and quality of life.”

Both Kline and Krevalin are former chairs of the Jewish Lifecare board of directors. Kline served as chair from 2012 to 2014, during which time she led the strategic-planning process leading to Project Transformation. Krevalin served as chair from 1996 to 2000, and has served on or chaired numerous committees, including the 2012 Centennial Celebration. Both Kline and Krevalin also served on the rebranding committee, leading to the organization’s rebranding as Jewish Lifecare.

“For the past two years, it has been my privilege to chair the board of directors and help shape this transformational journey,” said Kline. “As we move away from traditional models of care and embrace the small-house model of care, we will not only improve the care provided, but also enhance the dignity of those living here. Small house combines the best of a home-like setting with skilled care, and gives elders the freedom to live life on their terms, rather than conform to the rhythms of the institution. It helps them thrive in comfortable spaces that feel like home.”

In addition to her Jewish Lifecare volunteerism, Kline has also long been associated with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, currently overseeing all HGF programs and grants in Western Mass. Krevalin, a managing partner at Bacon Wilson, P.C., and his family have given back to the Jewish Lifecare community for generations. “Jewish Lifecare has a 102-year history of compassionate, caring, ever-growing services and facilities to best serve our residents, patients, and their families. Now, it’s time to reinvent ourselves once again,” he said. “It’s about a new philosophy, a new architecture, and a new look for the entire organization, ushering in a new world of quality care.”

The Project Transformation: A New World of Care campaign will support the construction of a state-of-the-art, 24-bed rehabilitation facility; renovations to the Leavitt Family Jewish Home in the small-house model of care; and other significant upgrades to the entire campus. Other funding sources will include an owner’s equity contribution and bank financing.

“For more than a century, we have been the proud caretakers of our local community,” said Martin Baicker, president and CEO of Jewish Lifecare. “From the very beginning, we have dedicated ourselves to delivering the very best elder care for everyone, regardless of religion or background. So, as we enter our second century, we are excited to introduce a new range of services and updates to serve our life-long commitment to our community.”

Jewish Lifecare has engaged the architectural firm of Perkins Eastman, as well as Jude Rabig, two of the foremost experts on culture change and small-house design in the U.S., to assist in the design of the upgrades and new facility. Groundbreaking for the new rehabilitation center is expected later this fall, with construction to be completed by the fall of 2015.

Chamber Corners Departments

AFFILIATED CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD
www.myonlinechamber.com
(413) 787-1555
• June 4: ACCGS [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m. Hosted by Springfield College at the Richard Flynn Campus Union. Topic: “Inspiring a Creative Corporate Culture.” Reservations are $20 for members, $30 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]
• June 12: ERC5 Annual Meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Blake Dining Commons, Bay Path College, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. Reservations are $20 for members, $25 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]
• June 26: ACCGS Annual Meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Sheraton Springfield, One Monarch Place, Springfield. The year in retrospect, and presentation of the 2014 Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year award. Reservations are $40 for members, $60 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.amherstarea.com
413-253-0700
• June 19-22: Taste of Amherst 2014. Come enjoy four days of fun at the 2014 Taste of Amherst, on the Amherst Town Common. Live entertainment will be provided by 93.9 the River, fun family events, and more than 20 local restaurants. Eat, play, dance, and celebrate all of what Amherst has to offer. Hours: Thursday, June 19, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, June 20, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, June 21, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, June 22, noon-4 p.m.
• June 25: Chamber After 5, 5-7 p.m. New Member Reception. Don’t miss this annual event, hosted by all the businesses at 25-35 University Dr.:
Cheryl Nina Salon, Encharter Insurance LLC, J. F. Conlon & Associates, Sawicki Real Estate, and 
Ziomek & Ziomek, Attorneys at Law. The Pub will provide food and drink. Sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank.
Tickets: Free for new members (if you joined between June 2013 and June 2014), $10 for members, and $15 for non-members.
• July 21: Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce 11th Annual Golf Tournament, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Hickory Ridge Golf Course, Pomeroy Lane, Amherst. Registration and lunch are from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with a shotgun start at noon, and reception and dinner starting at 5 p.m. Cost: $125 per player. Presented by Hampshire Hospitality Group. Co-scholarship sponsor: Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Silver sponsors: Encharter Insurance, J.F. Conlon & Associates, MBA. Dinner sponsor: Fallon Community Health Plan. Lunch sponsor: Davis Financial Group, LLC. Bronze sponsors: Daily Hampshire Gazette, NEPM, Steve Lewis Subaru. Carts sponsor: Taylor Rental. Water sponsor: Atkins Farms Country Market. Towels: Hampshire College.

CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101
• June 25: June Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., at Teddy Bear Pools & Spas. Tickets: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.
• June 4: Member workshop, “Grow Your Business with E-mail Marketing and Social Media,” 9-11 a.m., at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Sponsored by First American Insurance Agency Inc. Free for members, this workshop is designed to give small businesses and nonprofit organizations some simple ideas for growing their customer, prospect, or member network by using e-mail and social-media marketing. We will discuss what type of content to use in your campaigns; how to get more people to stop and read your messages; how to get more action, or reaction, to your messages and offers; why using images on social-media channels creates higher engagement; and why your content should be mobile-friendly. You’ll learn what it means to run effective e-mail and/or social-media marketing campaigns and what tools you can use to measure the success of your efforts without spending lots of time or money. Participants will leave with a workbook full of ideas for timing their messages, how to write a winning subject line, what kinds of offers or content they want to try, and how best to approach their next outreach project. This is a great workshop for beginners in online marketing looking to accomplish more in less time with a small budget.
• June 26: Member workshop, “E-mail Marketing for Success: Creating Effective Newsletters & Announcements,” 9-11 a.m., at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Sponsored by First American Insurance Agency Inc. At the heart of small-business marketing are the campaigns that drive action — collections of marketing activities that help a small business or organization achieve its goals and objectives. Newsletters and announcements have become a core component of those campaign choices. E-mail is more important than ever to the communication efforts of businesses and nonprofits everywhere, and to customers, donors, clients, and supporters of those organizations. This session will reveal some simple but effective best practices and considerations for the small-business or nonprofit seeking to make their e-mail newsletters more effective. Attendees of this presentation will learn the different types of newsletters; what to write about in your newsletter or announcement and how to consider using images; subject-line best practices and when to send your newsletter; the importance of understanding how connected e-mail and social media are, and how they have to be done together; and what types of additional tools might be useful. Join us and learn some great new strategies to help your e-mail and social-media efforts be more effective components of one of the core campaign types, newsletters and announcements.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.franklincc.org
(413) 773-5463
• June 6: First Friday in Greenfield, 5-8 p.m. “Gotta Bee Downtown!” — a bee celebration. Live music, discounts, refreshments, art. All are welcome for free. Contact the chamber for more information at (413) 773-5464; www.franklincc.org
• June 27: Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., at Terrazza Ristorante, Country Club Road, Greenfield. Elected state officials and chamber election of officers. Tickets: $13 for chamber members, $15 for non-members. Contact the chamber for more information at (413) 773-5464 or www.franklincc.org

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.easthamptonchamber.org
(413) 527-9414
• June 12: Networking by Night Business Card Exchange, 5-7 p.m., North Country Landscapes and Garden Center, One Main Road (Route 66), Westhampton. Sponsored by Innovative Business Systems. Door prizes, hors d’ouevres, and host beer and wine. Tickets: $5 for members, $15 for future members.
• June 16: Move the Mountain Networking Event, 4:30-7 p.m., at Holyoke Country Club, Country Club Road (off Route 5), Holyoke. Join with Greater Easthampton and Greater Holyoke chamber members as we ‘move the mountain’ to network together. Presented by the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce. Door prizes, hors d’oeuvres, and cash bar. Cost: $10 for Greater Easthampton and Holyoke chamber members, $15 for non-members.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.explorenorthampton.com
(413) 584-1900
• June 4: [email protected] 5, 5-7 p.m., at Black Birch Vineyard. Sponsored by Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, the Creative, and viz-bang! Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Register at [email protected]
• June 19: “The Art of Small Business: Pricing,” 9-10:30 a.m. Hosted and sponsored by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. Special guest: Don Lesser of Pioneer Training. Lesser has been a consultant and business owner for more than 30 years. His companies have grown and shrunk and grown again, and the nature of his business has changed over the years. “The Art of Small Business” contains the insights and techniques that have contributed to his success. Highlights: Apple never discounts. Clothing stores build in a series of discounts to the initial price. Consulting companies use various techniques to avoid quoting an hourly rate. Law firms typically quote an hourly rate and stick to it. How do you determine what rate you should charge for your time? Too high, and you scare clients away; too low, and your clients undervalue your work. There is an art to setting a price for your work. What is a livable rate for your work? What is the range of rates for your work in your market? How do you price a job, and how do you cover add-ons and other changes? Do you have separate rates for different types of clients? What about donating services? How do you negotiate rates with a potential client? This workshop covers the process of determining your rate and sticking to it. Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members.

NORTHAMPTON AREA YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY
www.thenayp.com
(413) 584-1900
• June 12: Nonprofit Board Fair, 5 p.m. at the Smith College Conference Center, 51 College Lane, Northampton. Learn about, connect with, and help lead local nonprofits. Nonprofits count on volunteers like you to lead them to success. The United Way of Hampshire County and NAYP have once again partnered to host the Nonprofit Board Fair, a signature event featuring nonprofits throughout the Pioneer Valley whose leadership will be on hand to talk to interested candidates about serving on their organizations’ boards of directors. There will be a variety of organizations from large to small, representing a mix of essential services, including economic security, community building, children and education, the environment, health and disabilities, elder care, the arts, and advocacy and access. This event is ideal for younger professionals seeking this type of engagement for the first time, as well as seasoned professionals with prior board experience.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618
• June 11: After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., at Westfield Bank, 462 College Highway, Southwick. Sponsored by Pro Tours & Cruises of Southwick. Great connection opportunities. Complimentary refreshments provided. Walk-ins are welcome. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members (cash at the door). To register. call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.
• June 12: Chamber’s Spring Marketing Speaker Series 2, 8:30-11 a.m., at the Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Topic: “E-mail Marketing for Success: Creating Effective Newsletters & Announcements.” Speaker: Liz Provo, authorized local expert for Constant Contact. Cost: free to chamber members, $25 for non-members. For more information, call Pam at the chamber office at (413) 568-1618.
• June 20: June Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., at the Ranch Golf Club, 65 Sunnyside Road, Southwick. Sponsors: platinum, First Niagara; gold, United Bank; silver, United Way of Pioneer Valley. Speaker: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Suzanne Scallion. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Consider donating a raffle prize. To register, call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.
• June 25: Chamber’s Spring Marketing Speaker Series 3, 8:30-11 a.m., at the Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Topic: “You’re Social. Now What? Is It Working?” Speaker: Liz Provo, authorized local expert for Constant Contact. Cost: Free to chamber members, $25 for non-members. For more information, call Pam at the Chamber office at (413) 568-1618.
• June 27: Local Legislative Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Tekoa Country Club, 459 Russell Road, Westfield. The luncheon is for the chamber communities of Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland, Westfield, and Woronoco. The state legislators for each community have been invited to speak. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Cost: TBA. For more information, call Pam at the chamber office at (413) 568-1618.

PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S CHAMBER
www.professionalwomenschamber.com
(413) 755-1310
• June 3: PWC Woman of the Year, 5:30 p.m., at the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Honoring Carol Campbell, president, CEO, and founder of Chicopee Industrial Contractors. Reservations cost $55. Register online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]
• June 10: PWC Ladies Night Member Reception, 5-7 p.m., at Fathers & Sons, 989 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy complimentary wine and refreshments. Reservations are free. To register, e-mail Dawn Creighton at [email protected]

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.ourwrc.com
(413) 426-3880
• June 11: Wicked Wednesday, 3-6 p.m., at Six Flags New England. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events hosted by various businesses and restaurants. These events bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information or for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]
• June 19: Annual Breakfast Meeting, 7-9 a.m., at Chez Josef, Agawam. Sponsored by OMG and Development Associates. The event will kick off with the welcoming of new chairman John Weiss and the incoming WRC board of directors. Cost: $25 for chamber members, $30 for non-members. For more information and for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]
• August 18: Annual Golf Tournament, at the Ranch Golf Course, Southwick. Registration is at 11:30 a.m., with lunch at noon and a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Cost: $125 for golf and dinner. For more information or for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

Chamber Corners Departments

AFFILIATED CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE OF GREATER SPRINGFIELD
www.myonlinechamber.com
(413) 787-1555

• May 21: Capital Matchmaking/Business Coaching, 1-4 p.m., at La Quinta Inn and Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. This is a business borrower and lender matchmaking event, ideal for small businesses. Presented by the U.S. Small Business Administration and Common Capital, in cooperation with the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield. Reservations are complimentary, but required. Contact Oreste Varela at [email protected] or (413) 785-0484 for information.

• May 27: ACCGS Pastries, Politics & Policy, 8-9 a.m., at the TD Bank Conference Center, 1441 Main St., Springfield. Designed for political and policy junkies, featuring a policy expert and member of the Patrick administration. Reservations are $15 for members, $25 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

• June 4: ACCGS [email protected], 7:15-9 a.m. Hosted by Springfield College at the Richard Flynn Campus Union. Topic: “Inspiring a Creative Corporate Culture.” Reservations are $20 for members, $30 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

• June 12: ERC5 Annual Meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Blake Dining Commons, Bay Path College, 588 Longmeadow St., Longmeadow. Reservations are $20 for members, $25 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

• June 26: ACCGS Annual Meeting, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at the Sheraton Springfield, One Monarch Place, Springfield. The year in retrospect, and presentation of the 2014 Richard J. Moriarty Citizen of the Year award. Reservations are $40 for members, $60 for general admission. Reservations may be made online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

AMHERST AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

www.amherstarea.com
413-253-0700

• May 28: Chamber After 5, 5-7 p.m. at Amherst Laser and Skin Care Center, 264 North Pleasant St., Amherst. Cost: $10 for members, $15 for guests.

• June 19-22: Taste of Amherst 2014. Come enjoy four days of fun at the 2014 Taste of Amherst, on the Amherst Town Common. Live entertainment will be provided by 93.9 the River, fun family events, and more than 20 local restaurants. Eat, play, dance, and celebrate all of what Amherst has to offer. Hours: Thursday, June 19, 5-9 p.m.; Friday, June 20, 5-10 p.m.; Saturday, June 21, noon-10 p.m.; Sunday, June 22, noon-4 p.m.

• June 25: Chamber After 5, 5-7 p.m. New Member Reception. Don’t miss this annual event, hosted by all the businesses at 25-35 University Dr.:
Cheryl Nina Salon, Encharter Insurance LLC, J. F. Conlon & Associates, Sawicki Real Estate, and 
Ziomek & Ziomek, Attorneys at Law. The Pub will provide food and drink. Sponsored by Greenfield Savings Bank.
Tickets: Free for new members (if you joined between June 2013 and June 2014), $10 for members, and $15 for non-members.

• July 21: Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce 11th Annual Golf Tournament, 10:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Hickory Ridge Golf Course, Pomeroy Lane, Amherst. Registration and lunch are from 10:30 a.m. to noon, with a shotgun start at noon, and reception and dinner starting at 5 p.m. Cost: $125 per player. Presented by Hampshire Hospitality Group. Co-scholarship sponsor: Cooley Dickinson Health Care. Silver sponsors: Encharter Insurance, J.F. Conlon & Associates, MBA. Dinner sponsor: Fallon Community Health Plan. Lunch sponsor: Davis Financial Group, LLC. Bronze sponsors: Daily Hampshire Gazette, NEPM, Steve Lewis Subaru. Carts sponsor: Taylor Rental. Water sponsor: Atkins Farms Country Market. Towels: Hampshire College.

CHICOPEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.chicopeechamber.org
(413) 594-2101

• May 28: Salute Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., at Elms College, 291 Springfield St., Chicopee. Tickets: $20 for members, $26 for non-members. Sign up online at www.chicopeechamber.org.

• June 25:
June Business After Hours, 5-7 p.m., at Teddy Bear Pools & Spas. Tickets: $10 for members, $15 for non-members.

• June 4: Member workshop, “Grow Your Business with E-mail Marketing and Social Media,” 9-11 a.m., at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Sponsored by First American Insurance Agency Inc. Free for members, this workshop is designed to give small businesses and nonprofit organizations some simple ideas for growing their customer, prospect, or member network by using e-mail and social-media marketing. We will discuss what type of content to use in your campaigns; how to get more people to stop and read your messages; how to get more action, or reaction, to your messages and offers; why using images on social-media channels creates higher engagement; and why your content should be mobile-friendly. You’ll learn what it means to run effective e-mail and/or social-media marketing campaigns and what tools you can use to measure the success of your efforts without spending lots of time or money. Participants will leave with a workbook full of ideas for timing their messages, how to write a winning subject line, what kinds of offers or content they want to try, and how best to approach their next outreach project. This is a great workshop for beginners in online marketing looking to accomplish more in less time with a small budget.

• June 26: Member workshop, “E-mail Marketing for Success: Creating Effective Newsletters & Announcements,” 9-11 a.m., at La Quinta Inn & Suites, 100 Congress St., Springfield. Sponsored by First American Insurance Agency Inc. At the heart of small-business marketing are the campaigns that drive action — collections of marketing activities that help a small business or organization achieve its goals and objectives. Newsletters and announcements have become a core component of those campaign choices. E-mail is more important than ever to the communication efforts of businesses and nonprofits everywhere, and to customers, donors, clients, and supporters of those organizations. This session will reveal some simple but effective best practices and considerations for the small-business or nonprofit seeking to make their e-mail newsletters more effective. Attendees of this presentation will learn the different types of newsletters; what to write about in your newsletter or announcement and how to consider using images; subject-line best practices and when to send your newsletter; the importance of understanding how connected e-mail and social media are, and how they have to be done together; and what types of additional tools might be useful. Join us and learn some great new strategies to help your e-mail and social-media efforts be more effective components of one of the core campaign types, newsletters and announcements.

FRANKLIN COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.franklincc.org
(413) 773-5463

• June 6: First Friday in Greenfield, 5-8 p.m. “Gotta Bee Downtown!” — a bee celebration. Live music, discounts, refreshments, art. All are welcome for free. Contact the chamber for more information at (413) 773-5464; www.franklincc.org

• June 27: Annual Meeting and Legislative Breakfast, 7:30-9 a.m., at Terrazza Ristorante, Country Club Road, Greenfield. Elected state officials and chamber election of officers. Tickets: $13 for chamber members, $15 for non-members. Contact the chamber for more information at (413) 773-5464 or www.franklincc.org

GREATER EASTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.easthamptonchamber.org
(413) 527-9414

• June 12: Networking by Night Business Card Exchange, 5-7 p.m.,  North Country Landscapes and Garden Center, One Main Road (Route 66), Westhampton. Sponsored by Innovative Business Systems. Door prizes, hors d’ouevres, and host beer and wine. Tickets: $5 for members, $15 for future members.

• June 16:
Move the Mountain Networking Event, 4:30-7 p.m., at Holyoke Country Club, Country Club Road (off Route 5), Holyoke. Join with Greater Easthampton and Greater Holyoke chamber members as we ‘move the mountain’ to network together. Presented by the Greater Easthampton Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce. Door prizes, hors d’oeuvres, and cash bar. Cost: $10 for Greater Easthampton and Holyoke chamber members, $15 for non-members.

GREATER HOLYOKE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.holycham.com
(413) 534-3376

• May 19: 46th Annual Chamber Cup 2014 Golf Tournament, starting at 10:30 a.m. at Wyckoff Country Club, 233 Easthampton Road, Holyoke. Registration and lunch at 10:30 a.m.; shotgun start at noon (scramble format); dinner following game with elaborate food stations catered by the Log Cabin.  Cost: $125 per player includes lunch, 18 holes of golf, cart, and dinner. Dinner only: $25. Winner awards, raffles, and cash prizes follow dinner. Tournament sponsors: the Log Cabin and PeoplesBank. Corporate sponsors: Dowd Insurance, Goss & McLain Insurance Agency, Holyoke Gas & Electric, Mountain View Landscapes, Holyoke Medical Center, People’s United Bank, and Resnic, Beauregard, Waite & Driscoll. For reservations, call the chamber Office at (413) 534-3376 or register online at holyokechamber.com.

• May 28:
Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting, 5 p.m., at the Delaney House. Sponsored by the Greater Holyoke Chamber Corporate Leaders. The program will be followed by the presentation of the Fifield Award celebrating the volunteer of the year. Join elected officials as they award various proclamations to the esteemed recipient. Networking and cocktails begin at 5; business meeting and elections are at 5:30, followed by dinner at 6. The program will include the chamber’s plan for 2014-15, an overview of how the chamber is working for its members, and a salute to new members. Admission: $30 in advance, $40 at the door. The public is invited to attend.

GREATER NORTHAMPTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.explorenorthampton.com
(413) 584-1900

• May 19: Bitcoin Informational Seminar, 3-4 p.m., at the Forbes Library,  20 West St., Northampton. Sponsor: Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce. Special guest: Jesse Vanek. In this seminar, we will cut through the hype and examine basic Bitcoin concepts, including a review of arguments for and against this powerful, often misunderstood, and potentially disruptive new technology. Designed for those who wish to better understand the potential risks and rewards of using, investing in, and accepting Bitcoin as payment for goods and services, this class is intended to provide a sound introduction that enables participants to make informed decisions about Bitcoin, for the benefit of themselves and their businesses. The program is free, but pre-registration is required. To register, call (413) 584-1900 or e-mail [email protected]

• June 4:
[email protected] 5, 5-7 p.m., at Black Birch Vineyard. Sponsored by Johnson & Hill Staffing Services, the Creative, and viz-bang! Cost: $10 for members, $15 for non-members. Register at [email protected]

• June 19: “The Art of Small Business: Pricing,” 9-10:30 a.m. Hosted and sponsored by the Greater Northampton Chamber of Commerce, 99 Pleasant St., Northampton. Special guest: Don Lesser of Pioneer Training. Lesser has been a consultant and business owner for more than 30 years. His companies have grown and shrunk and grown again, and the nature of his business has changed over the years. “The Art of Small Business” contains the insights and techniques that have contributed to his success. Highlights: Apple never discounts. Clothing stores build in a series of discounts to the initial price. Consulting companies use various techniques to avoid quoting an hourly rate. Law firms typically quote an hourly rate and stick to it. How do you determine what rate you should charge for your time? Too high, and you scare clients away; too low, and your clients undervalue your work. There is an art to setting a price for your work. What is a livable rate for your work? What is the range of rates for your work in your market? How do you price a job, and how do you cover add-ons and other changes? Do you have separate rates for different types of clients? What about donating services? How do you negotiate rates with a potential client? This workshop covers the process of determining your rate and sticking to it. Cost: $20 for members, $25 for non-members.

NORTHAMPTON AREA YOUNG PROFESSIONAL SOCIETY
www.thenayp.com
(413) 584-1900

• June 12: Nonprofit Board Fair, 5 p.m. at the Smith College Conference Center, 51 College Lane, Northampton. Learn about, connect with, and help lead local nonprofits. Nonprofits count on volunteers like you to lead them to success. The United Way of Hampshire County and NAYP have once again partnered to host the Nonprofit Board Fair, a signature event featuring nonprofits throughout the Pioneer Valley whose leadership will be on hand to talk to interested candidates about serving on their organizations’ boards of directors. There will be a variety of organizations from large to small, representing a mix of essential services, including economic security, community building, children and education, the environment, health and disabilities, elder care, the arts, and advocacy and access. This event is ideal for younger professionals seeking this type of engagement for the first time, as well as seasoned professionals with prior board experience.

GREATER WESTFIELD CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.westfieldbiz.org
(413) 568-1618

• May 19: “Prime Rib & Poker!” Annual Golf Tournament, at Shaker Farms Country Club. Registration is a 10 a.m., with a shotgun start at 11. Visit the chamber’s website’s for information on this annual event. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. Call Pam at the chamber office for more information at (413) 568-1618.

• June 2: Mayor’s Coffee Hour, 8-9 a.m., at Baystate Dental, 29 Broad St., Westfield. Join Mayor Dan Knapik for an informal talk about Westfield. Free and open to the public, but call Pam at the chamber to register at (413) 568-1618.

• June 11:
After 5 Connection, 5-7 p.m., at Westfield Bank, 462 College Highway, Southwick. Sponsored by Pro Tours & Cruises of Southwick. Great connection opportunities. Complimentary refreshments provided. Walk-ins are welcome. Cost:  $10 for members, $15 for non-members (cash at the door). To register. call Pam at the chamber at  (413) 568-1618.

• June 12: Chamber’s Spring Marketing Speaker Series 2, 8:30-11 a.m., at the Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Topic: “E-mail Marketing for Success: Creating Effective Newsletters & Announcements.” Speaker:  Liz Provo, authorized local expert for Constant Contact. Cost: free to chamber members, $25 for non-members. For more information, call Pam at the chamber office at (413) 568-1618.

• June 20: June Breakfast, 7:15-9 a.m., at the Ranch Golf Club, 65 Sunnyside Road, Southwick. Sponsors: platinum, First Niagara; gold, United Bank; silver, United Way of Pioneer Valley. Speaker: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Suzanne Scallion. Cost: $25 for members, $30 for non-members. Consider donating a raffle prize. To register, call Pam at the chamber at (413) 568-1618.

• June 25: Chamber’s Spring Marketing Speaker Series 3, 8:30-11 a.m., at the Holiday Inn Express, 39 Southampton Road, Westfield. Topic: “You’re Social. Now What? Is It Working?” Speaker: Liz Provo, authorized local expert for Constant Contact. Cost: Free to chamber members, $25 for non-members. For more information, call Pam at the Chamber office at (413) 568-1618.

• June 27: Local Legislative Luncheon, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Tekoa Country Club, 459 Russell Road, Westfield. The luncheon is for the chamber communities of Blandford, Chester, Granville, Huntington, Montgomery, Russell, Southwick, Tolland, Westfield, and Woronoco. The state legislators for each community have been invited to speak. Sponsorship opportunities are available. Cost: TBA. For more information, call Pam at the chamber office at (413) 568-1618.

PROFESSIONAL WOMEN’S CHAMBER
www.professionalwomenschamber.com
(413) 755-1310

• June 3: PWC Woman of the Year, 5:30 p.m., at the Castle of Knights, 1599 Memorial Dr., Chicopee. Honoring Carol Campbell, president, CEO, and founder of Chicopee Industrial Contractors. Reservations cost $55. Register online at www.myonlinechamber.com or by contacting Cecile Larose at [email protected]

• June 10: PWC Ladies Night Member Reception, 5-7 p.m., at Fathers & Sons, 989 Memorial Ave., West Springfield. Enjoy complimentary wine and refreshments. Reservations are free. To register, e-mail Dawn Creighton at [email protected]

WEST OF THE RIVER CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
www.ourwrc.com
(413) 426-3880

• May 21: Networking Lunch, noon to 1:30 p.m., Kaptain Jimmy’s in Agawam. You must be a member or guest of a member to attend. Enjoy a sit-down lunch while networking with fellow chamber members. Each attendee will get a chance to offer a brief sales pitch. The only cost to attend is the cost of your lunch. Attendees will order off the menu and pay separately the day of the event. Please note that we cannot invoice you for these events. For more information, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

• June 11: Wicked Wednesday, 3-6 p.m., at Six Flags New England. Wicked Wednesdays are monthly social events hosted by various businesses and restaurants. These events bring members and non-members together to network in a laid-back atmosphere. For more information or for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

• June 19: Annual Breakfast Meeting, 7-9 a.m., at Chez Josef, Agawam. Sponsored by OMG and Development Associates. The event will kick off with the welcoming of new chairman John Weiss and the incoming WRC board of directors. Cost: $25 for chamber members, $30 for non-members. For more information and for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

• August 18: Annual Golf Tournament, at the Ranch Golf Course, Southwick. Registration is at 11:30 a.m., with lunch at noon and a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Cost: $125 for golf and dinner. For more information or for tickets, contact the chamber office at (413) 426-3880 or e-mail [email protected]

40 Under 40 The Class of 2014
Assistant Vice President, Commercial Lending, Monson Savings Bank, age 35

Rob-Chateauneut-01In almost 15 years in banking, Rob Chateauneuf has seen plenty of change — literally and figuratively.

He started out as a teller at Woronoco Savings Bank, later acquired by Berkshire Bank, while finishing his degree at UMass Amherst. “From there, I got my management degree, and I was lucky enough to be put through the management training program.”

And he found his true calling in commercial lending. “A senior lender noticed that I really like to do loans, and they’d started a small-business program; that’s how I got my first job in commercial lending,” he explained. “I really liked it.”

Eventually, Monson Savings Bank came calling, offering Chateauneuf a position as assistant vice president of Commercial Lending, a job he relishes. “People picture bankers as number crunchers, but so much more goes into it. I don’t do transactions; I build relationships.

“Every deal is different,” he went on. “And you’re helping a company that might employ a great deal of people in the area, so you’re actually helping to develop the economy in the Pioneer Valley. At the end of the day, I pick up my briefcase and computer and say, ‘wow, I feel like I contributed to society.’”

He has also contributed to the community through volunteer work, most notably by chairing the board at Hawthorn Services — a provider of programs for the elderly — until that organization merged with the Center for Human Development, where he now serves on the board of directors’ program committee. “We make sure that CHD continues to focus on the needs of our community, whether it be child services, elder care, or homelessness,” he said.

Chateauneuf, who has twin 3-year-old boys, Evan and Bryce, with his wife, Shauna, finds a certain creative spark in his job and his volunteerism — a side of his personality he used to nurture through music.

“When I finished college, I played drums on the road for five years while I was the assistant manager at the bank,” he said. “I still don’t know how I got into banking; my goal was to play the drums, to play music. I guess one day, you wake up and realize you need a job that pays the bills. And banking was where I was at the time. But I lucked out, because I love it.”

— Joseph Bednar

Health Care Sections
Take Steps Now to Keep the Court out of Your Personal Decisions

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

If you were to become incapable of making your medical and financial decisions, do you know who would handle your affairs? Failing to plan for incapacity may mean becoming subject to guardianship and/or conservatorship proceedings in the probate court.
Ideally, you have executed formal legal documents naming someone to make those decisions for you, but many people remain unaware of the consequences of failing to establish a plan for incapacity as well as the steps to take to avoid having the court involved in their personal decisions.
If you were to become unable to make your decisions, whether due to mental illness or physical incapacity, and you have not executed a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy, it would be necessary to petition the court in order to have a guardian and/or conservator appointed to make your decisions. A guardian is appointed to make personal and medical decisions, while a conservator is appointed to make financial decisions. In some cases, only a guardian or a conservator is needed, but often both must be appointed. While a person under guardianship is deemed ‘incapacitated’ and a person under conservatorship is deemed ‘protected,’ for clarity in this article, all will be referred to as incapacitated.
The guardianship and/or conservatorship process begins with the completion of a lengthy petition that details the incapacitated person’s biographical and personal information, as well as a medical certificate, which must be completed by qualified medical personnel, setting forth the medical basis for the individual’s inability to handle their own affairs. Since the incapacitated individual has never set forth their wishes as to whom they would want to make decisions for them, the person seeking guardianship or conservatorship over the incapacitated person may be someone other than whom the incapacitated person would have selected.
Once the petition is filed, notice must be given to all interested parties, including the incapacitated person, their heirs-at-law, and, in some cases, state agencies. It is also often necessary to publish a notice in the newspaper that the petition has been filed. This notice informs the interested parties of their ability to object to the petition if desired. If an objection is filed, a trial may be needed in order to determine whether a guardian and/or conservator is necessary, as well as to determine who should be appointed.
After the date for objections has passed, and assuming there is no objection, the decree will issue, appointing the guardian and/or conservator. Having a guardian or conservator appointed takes approximately two months, even if no objections are filed. If an objection is filed that cannot be resolved without resorting to a trial, resolution could take many months. Fortunately, a temporary guardian and/or conservator can be appointed while the process is pending.
Even if the court process proceeds without objection, this is fraught with emotion and a loss of privacy. The majority of the papers filed with the court, as well as any hearings, are open to the public. Evidence is presented regarding the nature of the incapacity, and matters very personal to the incapacitated individual are discussed, including their financial situation. The court process is also expensive. In addition to filing fees for most cases, there will also be costs associated with providing proper notice, such as certified mailing and publication expenses. Generally, there is at least one attorney involved, although many times, there are more.
After appointment, a guardian or conservator must file an initial care plan and an additional care plan each year thereafter, detailing their ongoing service as guardian or conservator and their plans for the upcoming year. A conservator must also file an inventory of all the real and personal property that they are managing on behalf of the incapacitated person and must render an annual account detailing all income and expenses.

Avoiding the Court Process
Fortunately, with proper planning, it is possible to avoid the court process. If a durable power of attorney and healthcare proxy have been signed, the individual has named someone who can make all financial and/or medical decisions on their behalf. A durable power of attorney is a legal document that names someone to make financial decisions in the event of incapacity. A healthcare proxy is a legal document that names someone to make medical decisions in the event of incapacity. You must be competent to execute these documents, and thereafter, upon incapacity, there is no need for a guardian or conservator because individuals are already in place to make those decisions. Having both a durable power of attorney and a healthcare proxy is absolutely crucial to avoiding guardianship.
While you are competent, you have the ability to name the people that you would want to make decisions for you if you could not make them for yourself. By doing so, you will eliminate the loss of privacy, money, and time that is associated with the guardianship and conservatorship process. Establish proper documents now, and keep the court out of your personal decisions.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the regional law firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. She is a member of the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Association. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Sections The Business of Aging
JGS Strategic Initiative Continues a Tradition of Culture Change

Martin Baicker and Susan Halpern

Martin Baicker and Susan Halpern both used the word ‘transformational’ to describe Jewish Geriatric Services’ plans to adopt the so-called small-house model.

Martin Baicker calls it “the continuation of a journey that started years ago.”
That’s how he chose to describe a strategic initiative at Longmeadow-based Jewish Geriatric Services (JGS), which he serves as president and CEO, to adopt what’s known as the “small-house model of care” into some of its facilities.
The ‘small house,’ or ‘Green House’ model, as it’s also called, involves a more personal, home-like setting for elder care, one that represents the next iteration of ongoing culture change within the industry — and at JGS, said Baicker.
“This furthers a long tradition of caring and embracing culture change — our board is forward-thinking and has always wanted to be on the cusp of what is the latest thinking in terms of care for seniors,” he explained, adding that the ‘journey’ he mentioned started in the ’90s, with movement from the traditional nursing-home setting and operating philosophy to something known as the “neighborhood model.”
This was an effort to “de-institutionalize” nursing homes and make them more home-like, he noted, adding that it involved everything from incorporating carpeting and softer colors on the walls to adding amenities such as common areas, fish tanks, and solariums, to creating a sense of neighborhood by assigning facilities names, such as the ‘New York Unit,’ given to the short-term-care unit.
The small-house model goes further, and, as the name suggests, involves placing 10 to 20 private rooms in a setting that approximates a small house, he continued, noting that the private rooms would be supported by a central living room, or hearth, as well as a dining room and full kitchen.
“People will have their privacy in the rooms, but they can go out to the central living area, or hearth, to engage other residents, visit with family, to have activities — it’s like a home, it’s like a living room,” Baicker told BusinessWest, adding that the concept will first be adopted for a new short-term-care rehabilitation center, and will then be phased into the long-term-care facility, the Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home.
But the small-house model involves much more than facilities design, said Baicker, adding that it also requires a change in philosophy and operational design that begins with self-directed work teams committed to providing services when and how residents want them.
“The small-house model provides flexibility and choice for each resident,” he explained, “with a personalized team of multi-skilled staff, along with an environment that encourages residents to be an active participant in their care and treatment.”
Susan Halpern, vice president of Philanthropy for JGS, agreed.
The JGS team

The JGS team, left to right: Marty Baicker (president and CEO), Susan Kline (chairman of the board), Susan Halpern (VP of philanthropy), Randy Locklin (JGS project manager), Martin Siefering (principal at Perkins Eastman and project director), Eric Dalen (architectural team leader at Perkins Eastman), Katherine Cienciala (project manager at Perkins Eastman), Paul Steidl (Perkins Eastman), Bob Petroff (executive vice president and administrator of the Julian J. Leavitt Family Jewish Nursing Home), and Karen Johnson (VP of human resources). Missing from photo: Ed Roman (JGS CEO).

“We feel that this is the most transformational thing that we’ve done here since we moved to our Longmeadow campus in the early ’70s,” she said, adding that the scope and potential impact of the initiative should resonate when JGS launches a capital campaign to fund the initiative in the near future.
For this issue, BusinessWest takes an in-depth look at the small-house model of care, and at JGS’s work to stay at what Baicker called the “cutting edge” of advances in the delivery of care in the nursing-home setting.

At Home with the Idea
Baicker said the decision to move ahead aggressively with adoption of the small-house model was one of many suggestions forwarded by a committee assembled by JGS called the Future Vision Task Force.
The group, comprised of board members, key constituents, and JGS staff, spent more than a year researching innovative ways of providing elder care and making recommendations to the full board, he went on.
These suggestions included movement into palliative care, expanding and enhancing technology, general campus-wide enhancements and improvements, and expanding the adult-day-health program with a dementia specialty.
Topping the list, however, was incorporation of the small-house model into both the nursing home and a new short-term-care rehabilitation center.
The small-house model differs from a traditional nursing home — designed much like a hospital with long corridors, rooms on both sides, and a central nursing station — in terms of facility size, interior design, organizational structure, staffing patterns, and methods of delivering skilled professional services, said Baicker, adding that units are designed from the ground up to look and feel like a real home.
“Our goal is to transform how care is delivered at JGS,” he said, adding that, while the model has been embraced in many areas of the country, it is still relatively new to Western Mass., with Mary’s Meadow in Holyoke, a facility operated by the Sisters of Providence Health System, being the only small-house facility currently operating in Greater Springfield.
Beyond the dramatic departure from traditional nursing-home design, the small-house model represents significant change in overall operating philosophy, said Baicker, adding that this evolution, if you will, is “about enhancing dignity and providing JGS residents with cutting-edge rehabilitation and long-term care.”
He summed up this evolving approach with the phrase “resident-directed model of care.”
“The small-house model provides flexibility and choice for each resident with a personalized team of multi-skilled staff, along with an environment that encourages residents to be an active participant in their care and treatments,” he said.
Elaborating, he said that, historically, and in the traditional nursing-home model, residents work around the schedule of the staff. In the small-house model, the staff works around the schedule of the residents.
“To me, it’s about dignity and choice,” he went on. “People can choose to wake up when they want to wake up, not when people tell them to wake up. They can eat when they want, bathe when they want … it’s a philosophical change that’s a work in progress; we want this to be like their home.”
There will be an organizational, or structural, change to accompany the philosophical change, he told BusinessWest, adding that at the heart of this development will be self-directed work teams that represent a dramatic departure from the traditional staffing hierarchy at nursing homes.
“What’s going to change in the small-house model is you’re going to flatten that hierarchy,” he went on, adding that certified nursing assistants (CNAs) will be providing most of the care. “We’ll create a cross-trained, multi-skilled position; these individuals will do traditional things that CNAs have done in the past — the personal care they’ve provided — but in our model, they’ll also do other things. They’ll provide some activities, they’ll do laundry, and in some models, they’ll cook.
“They will spend a lot more time with the residents because they’re in the house doing all these other tasks,” he continued. “The CNAs will spend the bulk of their time with the residents, which is important, because if their condition changes, they’ll notice it first.”
The small house will be a self-contained unit in every sense of that phrase, he said, adding that the self-directed teams will make their own schedules, and there will be much more engagement between the residents and the staff.
“This will be a great place for staff to work,” Baicker noted. “They’ll work in the same place every day and with the same residents every day. And when that happens, it’s almost like they become family members.”
To assist with implementation of these sweeping changes, JGS has assembled a team of experts to work with the staff. The company has selected the architectural firm Perkins Eastman, an international leader in the design of elder-care living facilities, and designer of several small-house facilities. Additionally, JGS has engaged Judith Rabig, one of the foremost experts on culture change and small-house design, to assist with the planning process. Rabig is a nurse and gerontologist who has created plans for more than 20 small houses across the country. She is also the director of the National Alliance of Small Houses.

Room for Improvement
Baicker and Kimball Halpern told BusinessWest that there are no timetables in place yet for the capital campaign or the start of construction, although the project has reached the design phase. And the overall price tag for the initiative has yet to be determined.
What is known is that GJS is committed to continuing a tradition of being at the forefront of change and innovation in elder care, and movement to the small-house format is merely the latest example of this philosophy.
As Baicker said, it’s simply the continuation of a journey.

George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]

Elder Care Sections
Adult Day Health Spa Offers Elders, Caregivers a Healthy Option

Sheryl Fappiano

Sheryl Fappiano says Golden Moments provides social and wellness services seniors need while giving their caregivers a measure of freedom.

When Shelley Parker and her husband, Jonathan Gottsche, took Parker’s elderly father into their home in Northampton last summer, it was a life-altering experience for all three.

A World War II Air Force veteran, the elder Parker had a two-year wait for placement in the Soldiers Home in Holyoke, a facility where all felt he would be comfortable for his remaining days, surrounded by other veterans. So the decision was made to make Parker’s and Gottsche’s home a bridge to that institution.

Richard Parker was 87 at the time and showing many symptoms of dementia, the same signs that other members of the family had shown in the past.  Shelley already knew what to expect, which would be eventual 24/7 care for her father, and the loss of freedom for her and her retired husband.

“I’d always considered myself a planner, and I did plan; I prepared the healthcare proxy, the living will, the power of attorney,” said Parker. “But I didn’t plan for the time in which my father would be living.”

And that is the lesson that Parker and her husband learned in just a few short months by having her father with them.

“Planning ahead is really key,” Parker went on, “because we learned very quickly that there was only so much we could do to keep him busy every day that first four months.

“And with the winter coming, we said, ‘OK, this isn’t going to work for very long; ‘somebody’ isn’t going to make it for these two years,’” Parker continued with a laugh, referring to the buildup of stress and anger among husbands and wives that is common when taking on an elder parent full-time.

What changed the equation for the caregivers and the elder Parker is an option that is becoming increasingly popular due to the growing numbers of family members caring for elderly parents.

It’s called ‘adult day care,’ and BusinessWest spoke with one such company that is adding some new and effective wrinkles to that concept.

The venture is called Golden Moments Adult Day Health Spa, which offers structured programs featuring more attentive and customized services than the typical senior center for those who are frail or suffering from dementia, and some unique offerings as well, from massage to Reiki, that explain the word ‘spa’ in the company’s name.

In doing so, it has given new meaning to the elder Parker’s life, and new freedom to his his younger caregivers.

Golden Moments is the creation of Sheryl Fappiano, a licensed social worker and care-management-certified geriatric-care manager, whose mission is to see elders remain safe in their homes — or their adult children’s homes — for as long as possible. She puts her skills to work to fashion a unique environment where seniors can socialize and remain active, physically and mentally.

Her parent company, a geriatric-care management and consulting firm, Elder Care Access LLC, just celebrated 10 years in business, providing alternatives for working families with elders that need to be safe, and feel safe, wherever home may be.

Over the years, Fappiano saw a need to go a step further than consulting through Elder Care Access and provide a physical place that would allow elders with a range of physical, mental, and social needs to go to during the day, which would in turn give caregivers their own freedom. And she also knew that a social fix for an elder would also be more desirable than living alone or with family, which could become unsafe at any point, or incurring the exorbitant costs of home care or an elder facility.

For this issue and its focus on senior living, BusinessWest visited Golden Moments to learn more about this emerging concept in elder care, and how Fappiano and her staff are adding new dimensions in service to seniors.

 

Home Away From Home

During the time that Elder Care Access has grown and evolved, Fappiano, who has been in the geriatric-care industry for two decades, has witnessed a somewhat disturbing trend involving caregivers and the frustration and burnout experienced by that constituency.

“I started doing a lot of work with protective services with Highland Valley Elder Services [a Northampton-area agency on aging], and its department is just swamped with people [seniors] who are being abused, neglected, and sometimes financially exploited for one reason or another, and need oversight,” Fappiano told BusinessWest, adding that it was her job to go into such situations, provide support, offer solutions and resources for both the senior and the caregiver, and monitor the situation.

And it was while doing so that she determined that a cutting-edge form of adult day care could be an effective answer for those on both sides of this equation. So she went about making this latest entrepreneurial urge a reality.

Just over a year ago, she and her husband acquired space in the Florence Medical Center building and opened Golden Moments Adult Day Health Spa, a rather long name, chosen because it accurately conveys all that goes on there.

The facility now boasts more than 20 clients, who attend anywhere from three to nine hours, one to five days a week. The service, which ranges in cost from $45 to $85 per day, is paid for by the client or family, or may be covered by long-term-care insurance. In any case, the cost is significantly less than for other elder alternatives, such as assisted living or home care.

“Not only do both parties do better on every level, but the cost is less than half what it would be to live in an assisted-living or nursing home,” said Fappiano, noting that 24/7 care at home with an agency costs more than $500 dollars per day, even more than a nursing home, which runs about $300 a day, or $9,000 to $10,000 a month.

Parker began her research online for a solution to her father’s care needs, but found Golden Moments through word-of-mouth referrals first.

She and her husband visited several adult day-care facilities in the Pioneer Valley, but determined that Golden Moments offered the best overall fit for all those concerned, especially her father.

While the Florence Medical Center building itself is fairly sterile in appearance, with its concrete walls, Golden Moments projects a warm, inviting look and feel.

The main room, with its flickering fireplace, multiple plush couches, and numerous interactive games like bowling, beanbag toss, and board games, resembles a typical American living room. Meanwhile, the open back room has large sunny windows, and is a gathering place for lunches, card games, storytelling, and interactive word trivia that Fappiano and her six employees say helps clients with memory retention.

But aside from all the fun and games, there is the primary prescription for elder depression that is the key to the adult day-care concept.

“It’s totally the socialization — it helps with depression, anxiety … it’s huge,” said Fappiano, adding that this element to elder care is often missing in the traditional caregiver situation.

Elaborating, she said that when she consults in clients’ homes for her Elder Care Access company, she will often find caregivers leaving the elder client to eat alone in their dining room or kitchen, while the caregiver busies themselves with some other chore.

“I would tell them they have to sit, eat with them, talk with the elder client,” said Fappiano. “But it is hard being with the same person for hour after hour, and they do run out of things to say and do.”

This problem doesn’t generally exist at Golden Moments, she went on, because clients have many comtemporaries with whom to talk and interact, and there are different faces on most days.

As if on cue, another client arrived at Golden Moments, dropped off by an adult child who offered an obvious smile of relief.

“Top of the morning to you,” Fappiano cheerily said to her client, who genuinely broke out into a wide smile and returned the greeting in an Irish brogue. As the client, who is near 90, passed by slowly leaning on his cane, he joined his friends in the back room, much as a young boy would join his friends in school.

In fact, Fappiano said the first time a caregiver, which is usually the adult child, drops off an elder client, it’s like dropping off a child at their first day of kindergarten.

“We give everybody a free, three-hour trial, and in the beginning, when the caregiver drops them off, they have that look in their eye, and I tell them, ‘a quick exit is better; trust me when I say they’ll be OK. Give me your cell number, and I’ll call if I have to.’”

The feeling for the elder client can be similar to a small child in kindergarten as well, but they soon adjust to a new way of life. In fact, Fappiano has never had a potential client not return for weekly visits.

Vicky Applebee, office manager at Golden Moments, is not one of the direct-care staff members, but from her point of view, the atmosphere exudes family, for both clients and employees.

“Sometimes, when people first walk in the door, they are lost, unsure, even worried,” she said. “But after a few visits, I see this stress on their faces go away after getting into a new routine; that’s the biggest joy for me.”

 

Alternative Options

Fappiano said one of the keys to success at Golden Moments is knowing and fully understanding each client’s needs, capabilities, limits, and expectations, and then personalizing care to reflect all this data.

A comparatively low client-to-staff ratio (5 to 1 is generally the norm) enables the facility to tailor exercises and programs to suit each individual’s needs, rather than implement something approximating one size fits all. This is one operating philosophy that appealed to Parker as she sought a solution to her father’s needs, and one that differentiates the facility from others she visited.

“If they were taking a walk outside and one of the people could only walk a few feet, then that’s all everyone would walk that day,” she said, referring to one facility she toured. “I said, ‘no, that doesn’t work for me; if my father wants to walk a mile, he should be able to walk a mile.’”

Golden Moments has an LPN or RN on duty a few times a week to take vitals, work with stroke patients and other clients with specific needs, and administer medications, injections, and wound care as ordered by a primary-care physician.

In addition to regular activities involving socialization, such as memory word games, singing, special outings, and physical exercises, Fappiano is integrating more spiritual and “energy-related” alternative treatments that are more commonly found in the typical health spa.

Some alternative treatments and healing modalities include massage (also available for caregivers), Reiki, foot care by a holistic foot nurse, weekly pet therapy, sound and aromatherapy, and meditation.

But she’s finding some generational kickback.

“Those in their 90s, they don’t tolerate it so much; they just don’t understand the whole pampering thing,” Fappiano explained. “The younger ones … they get it, and we do meditation together.”

But Fappiano knows that a very open-minded group of aging Baby Boomers is headed her way, and Golden Moments is prepared to accept them when they’re ready.

The overall feeling in Golden Moments, she noted, is one of family from the minute a client or staff member walks into the room.

“Everyone is smiling around here … not sometimes, but every day,” said Applebee. “It’s a happy place, even with the struggles some might have at home, because caregivers get a much-needed break, and their loved ones are safe, staying active, and socializing.”

For Parker and her husband, the decision to bring her father into their home is, by all accounts, working, but basically because this unique adult day-care facility provides both client and caregiver what they need most — socialization and room to breathe, respectively.

“People [caregivers] say they have no time for themselves; they’re too busy,” she noted. “And I just see that, if they don’t figure out how to make things work, these situations could destroy relationships and families. My father is here, and this is allowing me to have my life, too.”

 

Elizabeth Taras can be reached at [email protected]

40 Under 40 The Class of 2012
Vice President of Operations, O’Connell Care at Home & Staffing Services

Lord-DanielleA friend and colleague of Danielle Lord called her “a dangerous business person with a very big heart.”
Laughing as she explained that dichotomy, Lord admitted, “I’m very no-nonsense, and I’m not shy about getting to the point.” But, she added, as the director of an organization overseeing the home health care needs of hundreds of clients, with an out-call staff of 250 nurses, “we have a big responsibility; we’re taking care of people at the end of their lives. It’s very important to be doing the best you can.”
Lord arrived at O’Connell upon completion of her master’s in Health Care Management from Springfield College. “But I never thought I’d work in elder care,” she said. “When you’re getting that type of degree, you’re expecting to work in a hospital. I didn’t even know something like this existed. And now I basically run the whole company!”
And runs it quite well. Under her leadership, O’Connell’s has doubled both its visiting nurses and administrative staff. Once a presence only in the Greater Holyoke area, the company has branched out to Hadley, and there is currently an office getting underway in Franklin County.
The company’s president and CEO, Fran O’Connell, has high praise for Lord. “Whether it’s an employee, customer, or patient, Danielle never forgets that these folks are people, and that they deserve respect and dignity. She has the amazing ability to balance the needs of the business with the needs of the individual.”
Balance is a word that figures prominently in Lord’s life as well. While advancing her career in the health care field, she is also becoming more active in the community; she’s currently vice president of the Holyoke Rotary Club, which means she’ll lead that organization next year.  “We’re active globally,” she said of that organization, “but also very invested in the Holyoke community.”
Meanwhile, her home life is important to her as well. Lord and husband, Brett, have two dogs, Boggs and Layla, with whom she chose to share the spotlight at her 40 Under Forty photo shoot.
— Dan Chase

Company Notebook Departments

Hampden Bank Donates $150,000 to Develop Springfield
SPRINGFIELD — The Hampden Bank Charitable Foundation recently granted $150,000 to support the plans and objectives of DevelopSpringfield. “We not only see this as an opportunity to help build a better, more vibrant community, but, as a corporate citizen and a purpose-driven organization headquartered in Springfield since 1852, we also consider this is a major responsibility,” said Thomas Burton, president and CEO of the bank. “We are proud to be part of this significant effort to move Springfield forward.” DevelopSpringfield is a private Massachusetts nonprofit 501(c)(3) formed in 2008 to advance development and redevelopment of commercial real-estate projects, stimulate and support economic growth, and expedite the revitalization process within the City of Springfield. In recent months, Mayor Domenic Sarno requested that DevelopSpringfield, in partnership with the Springfield Redevelopment Authority, expand its role to lead the city’s multi-year planning and redevelopment activities for areas impacted by the tornado of June 1. “Throughout the years, and regardless of the challenges facing our community, we have always been able to count on Hampden Bank to support important community needs in Springfield,” said Nicholas Fyntrilakis of Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co., and chair of DevelopSpringfield’s 14-member board. “Supporting DevelopSpringfield is the latest example of their commitment to our community.”

United Bank Named Top SBA Lender to Women
WEST SPRINGFIELD — United Bank was recently named the state’s #1 Lender to Women in fiscal 2011 by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). United Bank approved the highest percentage of total loans to women of all participating SBA lenders. Joanne Sheedy, RCA portfolio manager, accepted the award on behalf of United Bank at a recent meeting of SBA participating lenders in Boston. Robert Nelson, Massachusetts district director, applauded lenders for supporting SBA loan programs, which he called a “tremendous benefit to our businesses and economic recovery in Massachusetts.”

WMECo Completes Largest Solar Facility in Region
SPRINGFIELD — Western Massachusetts Electric Co. (WMECo) celebrated the completion of its second large-scale solar-energy facility on Dec. 21 in the Indian Orchard section of the city. The facility features 8,200 solar panels and produces 2.3 megawatts (MW) of electricity. WMECo representatives joined local and state officials in celebrating the transformation of the former foundry site into a clean, renewable energy facility. The Indian Orchard facility joins WMECo’s Silver Lake Solar facility in Pittsfield as one of the largest in the Northeast region, and is the largest in New England. The project brought nearly $12 million of new construction to the region and will contribute $400,000 of annual property tax revenue to the City of Homes. Springfield is one of the two Gateway Communities in WMECo’s service territory, and is home to approximately 65,000 WMECo customers. The Commonwealth has a goal to install 250 MW of solar generation by 2017. Under the landmark Green Communities Act, each Massachusetts electric utility may own up to 50 MW of solar, subject to approval by the Department of Public Utilities.

Bay Path Receives
$25,000 Award
LONGMEADOW — Bay Path College recently received a $25,000 scholarship award from the Petit Family Foundation during its first Evening Honoring Women in Science event at the Connecticut Science Center. The award will be used to provide financial support for students who are pursuing careers in the sciences. Bay Path currently offers undergraduate majors in biology, biotechnology, and forensic science, and will be introducing programs in biochemistry and neuroscience in the fall of 2012. The Petit Family Foundation honors the memories of Jennifer Hawke-Petit, Hayley Elizabeth Petit, and Michaela Rose Petit by continuing the kindness, idealism, and activism that defined their lives. The foundation’s funds are given to foster the education of young people, especially women in the sciences, to improve the lives of those affected by chronic illnesses, and to support efforts to protect and help those affected by violence. “On behalf of the college, I wish to express my profound gratitude to the Petit Family Foundation,” said Bay Path President Carol Leary. “With this scholarship award, our students will have the opportunity to study and excel in the sciences, pursuing meaningful and rewarding careers.”

CHD Elder Care Program Receives $10,000
SPRINGFIELD — The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) recently awarded the Center for Human Development’s Hawthorn Elder Care program a $10,000 grant to fund performances of Talking with Dolores, a one-act play that takes a serious look at depression and suicide among the elderly. The award is part of NEA’s Challenge America Fast Track program, which supports extending the arts to underserved audiences. The funding targets elder Latino audiences in Massachusetts and Connecticut. CHD is one of 162 organizations nationwide to receive this award. “We’re thrilled about the grant award because we will be able to reach more people with an important message,” said Jim Callahan, vice president of CHD Hawthorn Elder Care, in a statement. “The play tackles serious issues, but it does so in a very creative way. More than anything, it’s an effective way to get the community at large to talk about issues that are often times uncomfortable to discuss.” The NEA grant also enables Hawthorn to fund Hablando con Dolores, a Spanish-language production of the play.

Big Y Adds 38th Pharmacy
GUILFORD, CT — Big Y Foods Inc. recently opened its 38th pharmacy in a World Class Market in Guilford. Paul Dimmock, R.Ph., is the pharmacy manager, assisted by Robert Frye, R.Ph., and Jane Gray, R.Ph. Big Y pharmacies also conduct special wellness events throughout the year, including flu shots and cholesterol, osteoporosis, and blood-pressure screenings.

Health Care Sections
How to Ease a Loved One’s Transition to the World of Assisted Living

Patrick Laskey

Patrick Laskey says educating families about what assisted living is — and isn’t — goes a long way toward relieving anxiety.

It’s something that seniors and their loved ones are often reluctant to talk about. But the topic of assisted living should be addressed long before it becomes necessary, say administrators and marketing coordinators at area retirement communities. But even for families who have had those conversations, making the transition from independent to assisted living can be challenging. Here’s how to make it a little easier — and why many residents find that what they once feared is a lifestyle they now love.

It’s something no one wants to think about, but should.
“In today’s society, seniors are very willing to talk about what they’re going to do early in retirement, and willing to talk about what they’ll do with their estate after they’re gone, but they’re very reluctant to have a conversation about when they will need care,” said Elena Leon, director of community relations for Orchard Valley at Wilbraham.
“They don’t know what needing care means: is it when they can no longer prepare meals? When they can’t walk so well, hear so well, see so well? When it’s no longer safe to walk out of the tub or shower?”
The fast-growing field of assisted living provides an opportunity for older Americans to enjoy the comforts of a home-like setting, plenty of activities and socialization, along with the help they might need — from bathing and dressing to housecleaning and medication reminders — to get through each day.
Yet, many are so attached to the house they might have called home for decades that leaving it is terrifying, even when diminished faculties, and perhaps the loss of the ability to drive, have left them isolated.
“If you’re sitting looking at the four walls or the TV all day, but your human interactions are lost, you may be staying at home, but what’s the value of that life?” Leon asked. “Are you living life, or just waiting for the end? The thing about assisted-living communities is, there’s a life to be lived, so let’s live it, not just look at the calendar and check off another day.”
Administrators at several area senior-care facilities had similar perspectives on the value of assisted living. But the transition from independent living to a different model can still cause plenty of anxiety for seniors terrified of giving up the familiarity of what they have, and families worried about an aging parent’s safety but confused about the care options available.
Patrick Laskey, administrator of Loomis Village in South Hadley, said the challenges of entering assisted living can vary greatly depending on the circumstances surrounding the transition.
“Some people come in crisis; they’ve been alone and independent, or with their spouse, and then some event happens that brings them to the hospital — some difficulty comes to light — and they suddenly need assisted living,” Laskey said. “That’s often the most difficult for residents and families because they’re the least prepared for it. They’re discharged from the hospital, and it’s, ‘oh my God, what are we going to do?’
“They’re under duress, because they haven’t planned it out,” he added, noting that it’s a good idea for families to begin thinking about such contingencies in advance, in case a loved one suddenly does need additional care.
Leon agreed. “I’m a big advocate of having a plan,” she told BusinessWest. “Otherwise, you’re waiting for a hip fracture, or a wandering incident with dementia, or some other precipitating incident that forces the move, and why put yourself and your loved one through that suffering? The last thing you want is to have this suddenly thrust upon you at the hospital bedside.”
In this issue, the BusinessWest explores the questions families must grapple with when a loved one needs more care than they can get at home — and why they shouldn’t put those questions off.

When a House Isn’t a Home

Mary Phaneuf

Mary Phaneuf says a house can become a prison for many seniors, and assisted living frees them to keep on living in a quality way.

Mary Phaneuf, regional marketing director of the Arbors, said it’s natural to want to stay in a house that might have been home for decades, but sometimes an older person needs some prodding to realize it’s no longer an ideal place to be.
“They say, ‘I want to keep that house,’ but when the house doesn’t benefit you anymore, it becomes a prison,” she said. “Assisted living opens up opportunities to keep on living in a quality way.”
What is changing is the public awareness of assisted living, a care model between independent senior housing and nursing homes that has come into prominence in the past 20 years, and will continue to grow as the Baby Boomers head into the retirement years.
“Adult children want to see their parents enjoying things, and they see they’ve lost that in their homes — their eyesight is bad, their hearing is bad, they can’t drive anymore, and when they’re home, they tend to isolate themselves,” Phaneuf said. “But when those opportunities are available to them again, they tend to blossom and enjoy life again.
“We don’t cure diseases, and we don’t prevent people from aging,” she added. “We don’t fix any of those things. But we can allow them to enjoy life to the best of their ability until they’re no longer with us. That’s what our goal is.”
But potential residents and families need to educate themselves first on the benefits of assisted living — and to do it well in advance of actually needing it, said Beth Vettori, administrator of Rockridge Retirement Home in Northampton.
“There’s a trend in society that people generally don’t start thinking about whether they need to move or need services until something happens that forces their hand,” she said. “So one thing assisted-living communities do to help facilitate the transition is to offer a lot of programs and informational sessions for families and potential residents.”
Education has become even more important in recent years, Laskey noted, considering that the trend — perhaps driven by economic strains — seems to be people waiting longer to make the move.
“They feel a need to stay in their houses as long as possible, and they’re presenting themselves with a greater number of challenges, in terms of their own health and support,” he explained. “They may have two, three, four chronic medical conditions, and they’re coming in with what we call a higher acuity level, needing more support than in the past.”
Laskey pointed out that educating families about what assisted living is — and isn’t — helps ease anxieties simply by painting an accurate picture of what to expect. And it’s an important part of the process, since the term ‘assisted living’ has been used in the elder-care community to describe a wide range of models, from home care to skilled nursing care.
For Loomis, “assisted living is residential care; it’s a residential environment, not a health care facility,” he noted. “There’s still a lot of misinformation — some people expect a health care facility, and even people who say ‘I want to be independent’ often have a desire for more medical support.
“So we do a lot of educating,” he continued. “Our approach to assisted living is to assist people with being more independent, not to take care of people. We want you to have the highest level of function, comfort, and safety, but people are still independent, and have rights of privacy, self-determination, and choosing their own providers. That’s our day-to-day philosophy here.”
Jacqueline Marcell, an author, speaker, and advocate for elder care issues, also argues for starting the conversation early — while the potential resident is still in good health — in an essay published at www.seniorhousingnet.com.
“Getting them used to the idea beforehand will make it easier when the time comes,” she writes, adding that the senior’s safety is the most important factor, so families should not be deterred by his or her reluctance to discuss the issue.
“If you know that they cannot remain in their home safely, don’t let your emotions override what you know needs to be done,” Marcell adds. “Don’t wait for a broken hip, a car accident, or a crisis call before you step in. Recognize that, when you were a child, your parents would have done everything possible to keep you safe. Now, as hard as it is, you have to be the ‘parent,’ and you have to make the best decisions for their safety.”

Moving Right Along
Even for someone who recognizes the need for assisted living, the move itself can be traumatic, Laskey said, especially if leaving behind a large house, as opposed to an independent-living apartment.
“A major barrier can be how they’re going to downsize,” he told BusinessWest. “That can intimidate a lot of people into avoiding the decision to move — they just have too much stuff.”
To that end, Loomis provides professional organizers to help wade through the downsizing process, which can be daunting, especially for someone who has lived in the same house for many years.
“You can’t fit a 13-room house into a two-room apartment, so you bring the most important things with you,” Leon said, adding that family members can be great helps in whittling down the pile to the most treasured possessions. “You don’t leave your life behind — you take it with you, and look forward.”
She admits it’s not an easy task for many Baby Boomers.
“I’ve moved a dozen times in my adult life, and the next generation [to retire] will probably know how to move, but this current generation, they didn’t move. They didn’t change careers; they purchased or built one home, and that’s still the home they’re in, and they don’t relate to the whole process of relocation. And they can become frozen with fear because it’s too large a concept to think about, and it’s easier to do nothing.”
Vettori stressed the importance of furnishing a unit with the resident’s favorite furniture and decorative items, but just as important is relieving their loved one as much as possible of the burden of the actual, physical move.
“I highly suggest making sure they set up the apartment, cottage, or suite beforehand, so when they person moves in, they’re not faced with that overwhelming sense of, ‘oh my goodness, look at all this stuff boxed up that I have to unpack.’ Instead, they have the ability to walk into a very familiar, very welcoming place.”
Even after the move, many seniors initially struggle with anxiety over this new life, but most adjust well, Vettori said, adding that residents tend to support newcomers with a welcoming committee or buddy system to get them active in their new community.
Laskey said a hospitality committee at Loomis takes new residents under its wing for the first week or so, taking them to dinner and events and basically making the transition as painless as possible.
“We’re not into bringing in people who don’t want to be here and don’t belong here,” he said. “But it can be traumatic when a person moves in; they can feel a loss of individuality, and some have trouble adjusting. That’s not abnormal. But most people stay, and, if you talk to them, most of them love it.”
Leon reported similar experiences at Orchard Valley.
Assisted living is “about safety and care, but also about that social element,” she told BusinessWest. “Aging is not kind, but we want to make it the best, most joy-ridden experience we can. We have to learn how to play again and take pleasure, and not just endure.”

Joseph Bednar can be reached at [email protected]

Health Care Sections
Navigating the Minefield of Long-distance Caregiving

Gina Barry

By Gina M. Barry, Esq.

There comes a point when most of our nation’s elders will need assistance with various tasks, such as household management, bathing, dressing, medication management, meal preparation and eating, transferring, and/or using the restroom. In the past, such assistance was typically provided by family members; however, with the increased mobility of our society, it is now common for family members to be too physically distant to provide hands-on care.
It is also common for an elder to be unwilling to move closer to their family, even if staying where they are means receiving care from someone other than their family members. Although the distance creates many hazards, steps can be taken to allow successful navigation of the minefield of legal, financial, and administrative issues that lie in wait for the long-distance caregiver.
The most common legal issue associated with providing proper care and oversight from a distance involves establishing proper legal authority to ensure ongoing care in the event of incapacity of the elder. When proper legal authority is not established, caregiving can be interrupted, leaving the elder at risk for physical, mental, and/or financial harm.
This legal issue can be easily resolved through the elder’s execution of a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. The durable power of attorney and health care proxy are two distinct legal documents that give a person the elder chooses the authority to make financial and medical decisions on the elder’s behalf if the elder is incapacitated.
In the event that a durable power of attorney and health care proxy are not established and the elder loses capacity, it will be necessary to petition the probate court to appoint a conservator and/or guardian to make financial and medical decisions for the elder. The process of having a conservator or guardian appointed is expensive, time-consuming, and results in the elder’s loss of privacy and legal rights. As such, the overseer of the elder’s care should discuss with the elder the need to establish these documents while the elder is still capable of executing them.
In addition, end-of-life decisions should be discussed with the elder, and the elder’s wishes should be memorialized in writing within the proper legal document. Ideally, the estate plan will also include a will, which provides clear instructions as to the disposition of the elder’s estate upon their passing away.
Because the law varies from state to state, another common legal pitfall arises when the estate planning documents that have been established are not valid or are not recognized. This pitfall usually arises because: (1) the documents were not properly prepared or executed; (2) the documents were prepared in the caregiver’s state and are not recognized in the elder’s state; or (3) the documents were prepared in the elder’s state and the elder moves to the caregiver’s state where documents are not recognized.
To avoid the pitfall of having unusable estate-planning documents, it is best to hire elder-law attorneys practicing in both the elder’s and the caregiver’s states, so that you can be sure the advice you receive will pertain to the law of each state, and any necessary state-specific provisions will be incorporated into the estate-plan documents. Otherwise, it is possible that the elder could lose the protection of the documents, especially if the elder moves after losing his or her capacity to execute new documents.
Financing care is another area loaded with potential problems for the long-distance caregiver. Many times, the elder expects that public benefits (Medicaid) will pay for his or her care needs. Again, each state has different rules relative to obtaining approval for public benefits, and there are vast differences between the states as to various issues, including, but not limited to, asset and income limits, the effects of long-term-care insurance, and the effects of past gifts. Again, it is imperative to consider the rules in both states when planning if there is any possibility that the elder will relocate.
Further, there are also differences in the reach of each state’s estate-recovery rules, which are the rules that allow the state to recover benefits paid for care from the estate of a recipient who has passed away. Here, proper planning can ensure that benefits will be obtained as efficiently as possible and, at the same time, minimize the exposure of the elder’s estate to recovery efforts.
With respect to administrative issues, coordinating caregivers can be a daunting task. It can also be a serious mistake to rely on an elder’s self-reported care needs, because many do not recognize their own needs when they arise. As such, every long-distance caregiver should hire a geriatric care manager in the elder’s area. A geriatric care manager is a health care professional with training in gerontology, social work, and nursing. In most cases, the geriatric care manager will conduct an assessment of the elder and develop an individualized care plan.
In the long-distance-caregiving situation, the geriatric care manager will act as a liaison for the distant caregiver. Here, the geriatric care manager will oversee the elder’s care, providing a report to the caregiver at regular intervals and alerting the caregiver to any potential problems. The geriatric care manager’s additional oversight not only provides peace of mind for the long distance caregiver, but also guards the caregiver from claims that he or she is not conscientiously carrying out his or her duties due to the distance and/or lack of personal oversight.
Even though long-distance caregiving is a minefield, the wisest of caregivers knows that hiring professionals in the elder’s area, the caregiver’s area, or both is the equivalent of employing a minesweeper. With proper planning and the advice of elder-care professionals, caregivers can defuse or altogether avoid the mines and successfully navigate the minefield of long-distance caregiving.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Massachusetts Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; baconwilson.com

Employment Sections
Employment Board’s Strategic Plan Identifies Challenges, Game Plans

Bill Ward of the REB

Bill Ward says that one of the goals of REB’s new plan is to have the organization become known as the leading source of regional labor market information and innovative ideas.


The days when a college degree or training certificate combined with years of experience were enough to ensure job security and a steady path toward advancement have all but disappeared.
Today, rapid advances in technology and outsourcing have made job competition fierce. In fact, one of the key findings in the recently released Regional Employment Board of Hampden County Strategic Workforce Development Plan for Hampden County 2011-2013 is that life-long learning is essential to job creation, retention, and the economic health of the region.
The report, which took nine months to produce and involved partnerships, collaborations, a retreat, and data compiled over a six-year period, paints a clear picture of the state of the region’s economy, workforce trends, challenges, and opportunities for growth.
REB Executive Director William Ward says the plan also creates a framework for solutions to the identified challenges and covers a broad continuum, which begins at the pre-school level and runs into the future, addressing gaps that local businesses anticipate over the next decade.
“The REB is embarking upon a new and more expansive strategic direction, and we’re looking at workforce development in a more comprehensive way, because we want to build a more prosperous community,” Ward explained. “One of the essential components of a high quality of life is safe, secure employment with adequate pay.”
Meanwhile, he continued, there is a direct relationship between the number of people with the requisite skills to fill open positions and the strength of the economy in Western Mass.
“When a company inquires about moving to a new location, one of its top three questions is, ‘what is your workforce like?’ he told BusinessWest, adding, “people call it ‘talent management.’ So, the REB looks at jobs and their connection to human capital and views it in terms of supply and demand. We ask what employers are looking for and then look to see whether we are producing sufficient numbers of people to meet their needs, or overproducing them.”
Ward said many jobs have moved to Boston, which has an economy based largely on higher education, health care, and financial services, due to the abundance of qualified talent there.
REP staffers Kelly Aiken and David Cruise

REP staffers Kelly Aiken and David Cruise are focusing on training in health care and precision manufacturing, respectively, to meet the needs of businesses today and in the future.

Still, health care is the largest employer in Western Mass., and the area boasts a large number of precision manufacturing companies not found in the Boston region, he said. These two sectors play prominently in the report, along with the need for more education for people along the continuum.
Ward said that last year, more than 20,000 area residents sought employment assistance at the REB’s one-stop career centers in Springfield and Holyoke (FutureWorks and Career Point, respectively), but fewer than half were able to secure jobs. At the same time, many good-paying positions went unfilled, especially in health care, precision manufacturing, human services, and financial services. The reason? A lack of qualified candidates.
Kelly Aiken, the REB’s project director of Health Care Initiatives, said it’s critical that the curriculum at local schools and training centers is in line with both the needs of industry and job seekers. “Education doesn’t move as fast as industry, so we had to figure out a way to ensure a continuum for learners and career pathways. These are main threads that run through the report,” she said.
The REB doesn’t train people, but it is the “go-to place” for companies to find out how they can find qualified workers or obtain grants or other assistance to help them train their workforce or hire new people,” said Ward, adding that the organization uses federal dollars to set up training programs and facilitates the infrastructure between education and local companies.
“This is a business-led organization, and our role is to ensure that state and federal investments in workforce development are wisely spent and have a good return on investment,” he continued. “The REB’s new strategic plan is data driven and we aim to be the leading source of regional labor market information and innovative ideas for advancing workforce development.”
The REB develops, plans, and contracts with providers to hold workshops for people in the job market through its one-stop career centers, and also community colleges and training schools. It also works hand-in-hand with businesses to create internships and increase work-based learning opportunities that align closely with the needs of industry.
“The jobs that have left this region are not coming back,” Ward explained. “And if new jobs emerge, people will need new skills, so workforce training is integral to our mission.”

Learning Curves
Springfeld and Holyoke have been earmarked as Gateway Cities with high levels of poverty and comparatively high dropout rates within their school districts, and those figures play a significant role in the REB’s report.
Ward said recent research shows that 74% of students who don’t read well in third grade will continue to have difficulty, which can lead to dropping out of school and lost opportunities. And local MCAS scores show gaps in the areas of reading, science, and technology — areas directly related to the types of jobs that will be available to graduates in the future. The picture doesn’t get better at the community college level, where one of every three students drops out because their schooling is too costly or they need too much remediation.
“Although Massachusetts ranks number-one in public education and the use of technology, the problem is that we have pockets and gaps within the community with very low achievement,” Ward explained. “Springfield and Holyoke are two of those pockets, so we need to make an above-average investment to close the educational skill gap. That’s why a strategic plan for our area is very different than one for Boston or Cambridge would be.”
The REB has several initiatives in place to expand family literacy. One is a pilot program called “Talk, Read, Succeed,” which is a collaboration between Springfield Public Schools, the United Way, Springfield Housing Authority, and the Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation. The goal of this early-literacy project is to help ensure that children from 200 families in two Springfield public housing developments are proficient readers by the end of third grade.
Ward said studies show that the vocabulary of first-grade students is directly related to their environment. Children from poor neighborhoods and homes are deficient in this area, and once they start school, they usually experience learning setbacks every summer.
The staff members in “Talk, Read, Succeed” will work with families to help them increase their children’s vocabularies, and will also provide programs to help improve the odds that students will retain what they learned in school. In addition to helping children, “we’re also going to set up literacy programs for parents who want to learn English or get a GED,” Ward said.
The Hasbro Summer Learning Initiative is another program with a similar goal. In its third year, it serves about 2,000 children up to age 12 during the summer. Ward said the data is very clear that students in the program are making gains every summer instead of losing what they learned.

Making Connections
The new workforce plan also reinforces the REB’s commitment to partnerships. Ward said government cannot pay the entire bill for ongoing education, and that local businesses need to make investments in workforce development to remain competitive.
“They need to see it as an investment, not as a cost. Although we focus on adults, youth is the pipeline of the future and that begins at the pre-kindergarten level and goes up to age 21,” he explained. “We have to find ways to prepare our youth, stem the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate. It’s not simple, but we need to manage our human capital because it is the only way to ensure that the supply will meet the demand.”
Precision manufacturing is one of the areas targeted in the new plan, and David Cruise, director of Business and Employer Services, has been working with the Western Mass. Chapter of the National Tooling and Machining Assoc. (WMNTMA) to make gains in this arena using data collected from 33 local employers over a period of six years.
Last year these employers added 103 new jobs, which represents a 8.6% increase over the previous year. In addition, their sales increased 9.5% over the previous year to about $21 million.
“The sector is growing, and the REB has targeted it as having significant long-term potential for the area,” Cruise said. “The work they are doing is not going offshore, so we are trying to have the Pioneer Valley become ‘Precision Valley.’ We have companies here with the technology, leadership, and the skilled workforce to become what can be known as a precision manufacturing hot spot.”
WMNTMA and REB have joined forces, and are offering 34 evening courses for incumbent workers. They are also working diligently to encourage junior high school students and even elementary school students to to consider manufacturing — a sector that that has taken some public relations hits over the years as plants have shut down and jobs have moved overseas — as a viable career option.
In addition, local employers are donating equipment to schools, staging workshops and conducting tours of their facilities to showcase the types of jobs and environments they offer, and attract young people.
“The continuum is important, so we have put together a training network that utilizes the resources at several local companies along with local vocational technical high schools and Springfield Technical Community College, which is a major venue because it has a mechanical engineering technology program,” Cruise said. “Incumbent employees are volunteering for this training, and classes are held at these sites four nights a week.”
The new workplace plan also recognizes the industry’s concerns over its graying workforce.  “The owners of precision machining companies are very concerned about how they will replace those individuals. They expect to lose 25% to 27% of their employees over the next decade,” Cruise said.
Health care is also a major focal point of the new strategic report. “The plan highlights the fact that we are actively engaged in convening and building partnerships to ensure the region has a quality health care workforce,” Aiken said, adding that there is a major focus on jobs in elder care that will open up due to the fact that Baby Boomers are aging.
In fact, the face of the medical field is changing, and Aiken said health care workers of the future will need to plan to work in long-term care, home health, and community based venues instead of setting their sights only on acute care facilities or hospitals.
“It is our job to consistently stay in front of industry needs, which we do through partnerships, data collection, changing curriculums, and matching people with jobs,” she told BusinessWest. “One of the key themes of the strategic plan is how to do a better job defining and promoting seamless career pathways. Health care is changing dramatically, and it is a challenge to marry sector initiatives with federal funds to build a system that will support people on their continuous lifelong journey.”
In short, cooperation and investment in education is critical, and strategic workforce collaborations are more important than ever before.

The Bottom Line
Officials at the REB recognize that their goals are ambitious, but they plan to measure their progress, and are guardedly optimistic about the future.
“What is new about our sector initiatives is the realization that people need to learn outside of their silos,” Aiken explained. “Ongoing, sustained partnerships are required to ensure that we are always ahead of the game.”
Ward agreed. “The report is a call to action,” he said. “Everyone in the community needs to work more closely so the size and preparedness of our current and future workforce will make us more competitive as a region.”

Company Notebook Departments

Law Firm Named to ‘Top Tier’ List
SPRINGFIELD — Sullivan Hayes & Quinn was recently named a Top Tier Employment Management Firm by Best Lawyers and U.S. News and World Report. Managing partner Meghan Sullivan noted that the law firm was among 8,782 firms from across the country to be recognized. The local law firm specializes in employment-management issues, including labor relations, risk avoidance, workplace regulation, and employment litigation.

Appledore Engineering Joins Tighe & Bond
WESTFIELD — A New Hampshire civil-engineering firm has joined forces with Tighe & Bond, a engineering and environmental consulting service in the city. The move will enable Appledore Engineering to expand its service offerings and will also provide Tighe & Bond more opportunities for expansion into the New Hampshire and Maine markets. Appledore Engineering will remain at its Portsmouth location and do business as Appledore Engineering, a division of Tighe & Bond.

CHD, Cancer House of Hope Announce Merger
SPRINGFIELD — The Center for Human Development (CHD) and Cancer House of Hope recently announced a merger between the two nonprofit agencies. The CHD Board of Directors and Cancer House of Hope Board of Trustees both approved the merger late last year. It became effective Jan. 1. Cancer House of Hope operates two houses, one in Westfield and one in Springfield, that offer free support groups, workshops, and classes to adults with cancer and their family members and friends. Cancer House of Hope is now a program of CHD in its Community Resources division. Cancer House of Hope’s events, activities, and services will continue without interruption, and the agency’s two full-time and one part-time employee are now employees of CHD. Cheryl Gorski, executive director of Cancer House of Hope, noted in a statement that, “given the economy, it was getting more and more difficult to keep things running.” Gorski will continue to manage the program as its director. Gorski added that “merging with CHD will give us access to more resources for development, marketing, and support.” Founded in 1997, Cancer House of Hope has an annual operating budget of about $235,000, all of it coming from donations, grants, and fund-raising events, such as its upcoming, third annual Cheeseburger in Paradise Bar-B-Que at the Cedars in Springfield Feb. 19. Cancer House of Hope serves approximately 260 people a month at its two locations: 86 Court St., Westfield, and 946 Plumtree Road, Springfield. In addition to its three staff, Cancer House of Hope also contracts for services with 12 per-diem counselors and depends on about 50 volunteers, who help run the homes and activities. Gorski said she reached out to CHD President and CEO Jim Goodwin last August about the possibility of a merger. Gorski noted, “It made sense to help us get to the next level of what we can offer our members. I’m very enthusiastic about it. I think it’s a great thing for us.” Goodwin said that merging with a high-quality agency like Cancer House of Hope furthers CHD’s mission of offering community-oriented services in a way that helps protect people’s dignity. Goodwin noted that everyone knows someone who has been touched by cancer. He added that the programs and services Cancer House of Hope offers “are just too important to risk losing.” Those programs and services include yoga, Reiki, wig fittings, and bereavement-support groups, among many others. While the two homes are open to anyone regardless of residency and need, they mostly serve people who live in Hampden County and Northern Conn. For a list of Cancer House of Hope programs and services, visit www.cancerhouseofhope.org. Founded in 1972, CHD is a family of more than 40 programs that deliver a wide range of social services in communities throughout Western Mass. and Northwestern Conn. in areas such as mental health, youth mentoring, family stabilization, foster care, early intervention, elder care, occupational therapy, intellectual and physical disabilities, homelessness prevention, substance abuse, and juvenile justice. CHD’s main office is located at 332 Birnie Ave., Springfield. For a list and description of programs and services, visit www.chd.org.

United Bank Supports United Way Campaigns
WEST SPRINGFIELD — United Bank recently announced its annual United Way employee campaign generated more than $52,000 in contributions to United Way organizations located in the bank’s service area. The bank ran campaigns at all 22 branches located throughout Western and Central Mass. The 2010-11 employee campaign surpassed last year’s level of participation and giving to the United Ways of Pioneer Valley, Hampshire County, and Central Massachusetts. In addition, the United Bank Foundation contributed $36,000 to the campaign for a combined gift of $88,118.

MassMutual Explains Roth Retirement Plan Conversions
SPRINGFIELD — As part of its commitment to educate participants, plan sponsors, and advisers, MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division has published a white paper titled “Roth Retirement Plan Conversions — Questions and Answers.” The document answers the most common questions around converting 401(k), 403(b), and, starting this year, 457(b) governmental plans into Roth accounts. Effective last fall, the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 allows participants who are in a retirement plan that offers Roth accounts the ability to convert or roll over their non-Roth account balances into a Roth source under the same plan, provided the participant has a distributable event (i.e., termination of service or in-service withdrawal provision, excluding hardship). For more information, visit www.massmutual.com.

Agency Offers Mobile Marketing Services
AGAWAM — The Creative Strategy Agency has started offering mobile marketing services including mobile Web sites, short-message service, and tablet and mobile applications for businesses. Alfonso Santaniello, CEO and president, noted in a statement that he wanted to take the agency’s marketing services “to a new and innovative format.” Santaniello added that mobile applications have “grown significantly” in the past year, and that he expects that trend to “continue to grow in the years to come.” For more information, visit www.creativestrategyagency.com.

Big E Plans $2.2M
Equine Arena
WEST SPRINGFIELD — Wayne McCary, president and CEO of the Eastern States Exposition, recently announced that the organization will embark on a $2.2 million construction project to build a covered warm-up arena attached to its C-Barn, the main horse barn used by the ESE Horse Show conducted during the Big E as well as a number of year-round equine events. Exposition officials vowed to continue their commitment to agriculture and the horse show by further developing infrastructure to maintain ESE’s position as New England’s most-sought-after equine destination. McCary noted in a statement, “I am confident that this project will further solidify the exposition’s position as the premier horse show facility in the Northeast. Our commitment to agriculture and our horse show, which began here in 1916, is ongoing.” The Exposition is also home to 12 year-round horse shows as well as a major equine-related trade show, Equine Affaire, held each November. The new arena will match the height of the existing building, and the 66’ x 170’ clear span outdoor roof will be bordered by a four-foot brick perimeter wall with pre-cast concrete upright posts. The exterior of the structure will mirror the north wall of the existing barn, and its walls will consist of a permeable vinyl designed to protect riders and horses from the elements while providing air circulation and ventilation. Each end of the covered arena will feature 20-foot ornamental iron sliding gates. Riders will be cooled by 16’, low-speed, high-volume fans. New lighting will be installed, and the riding arena will have spray irrigation and underground drainage. An existing angled doorway will be enlarged to 12’ x 14’ so riders may enter and exit the ring on horseback, and the immediate exterior area will also be covered. The project is the result of an extensive study of ESE facilities, conducted in 2010 to assess the needs of existing tenants and look toward future year-round growth. The research included a major engineering study of the Coliseum by Populous of Knoxville, Tenn., and a marketing analysis by AECOM of Washington, D.C. The Exposition will assume financial responsibility of the project and will receive no funding from the state. In addition, its 2011 capital budget of more than $1.1 million will include the installation of a new roof and other major improvements to the Coliseum. F-Barn, an auxiliary barn with 100 horse stalls located in the southwest corner of the fairgrounds, will also receive a new, upgraded metal roof. McCary noted, “we are investing in our future to maintain our roots and stay viable in an ever-changing marketplace.” The design architects for the project are Charlie Smith and David Forkner of Populous, in Knoxville. Neffinger Architects, of West Springfield, will serve as the architect of record. This winter, contractors will be selected, and construction will begin at the end of March. The project will be completed in time for the 2011 Big E, planned for Sept. 16 through Oct. 2.

Agenda Departments

Extreme Business Makeover
Dec. 8: Western New England College’s Law and Business Center for Advancing Entrepreneurship will host an Extreme Business Makeover session from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the NUVO Bank community room, 1500 Main St., Springfield. Olive Tree Books-N-Voices will be the featured business that will receive advice from Pamela Aronson, owner of Pam’s Paperbacks “Plus”; Lou Cadorette, CPA, MST; Antonio Dos Santos, Esq., Robinson Donovan, P.C.; Janine Fondon, president and CEO, Unity First Direct Inc.; and John F. White, SVP commercial lending, NUVO Bank & Trust Company. Olive Tree Books-N-Voices is a familyowned bookstore which focuses on African-American books and literature, multicultural books, book accessories, journals, Bibles, religious books, and many more Afro-centric items. The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

Value Management Seminar
Dec. 9: The Purchasing Management Assoc. of Western New England is sponsoring a breakfast seminar titled “Value Management: Key to a Profitable Company” from 8:15 to 10:15 a.m. at the Yankee Pedlar Inn in Holyoke. Breakfast will be served at 7:30. Joseph F. Otero, CVS of Pratt & Whitney, will discuss how to implement the value- management approach to the purchasing of goods and services. The business objective, according to Otero, is to avoid paying for features and functions that one’s company doesn’t need. The cost is $25 for members and $30 for non-members. The deadline to register is Dec. 6. For more information or to register, visit www.pmawne.com, e-mail [email protected], or call Donna Bitzer at (413) 594-4400.

Nutcracker & Sweets
Dec. 10-12: The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke welcomes back the Massachusetts Academy of Ballet and members of the Ballet Educational Training Assoc. for several magical performances with a Skinner twist on a holiday classic. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Wistariahurst is the former home of William Skinner, a prominent silk manufacturer. Advance registrations are recommended; seating is limited. Show times are Friday at 7 p.m., Saturday at 1:30 and 4 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Admission is $10 with children 12 and under admitted free. For more information, call (413) 322-5660. The Wistariahurst is located at 238 Cabot St.
‘Talking with Dolores’
Dec. 15: The Center for Human Development (CHD) will host a one-act play about aging, life, and death choices from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Majestic Theater, 131 Elm St., West Springfield. The performance celebrates the merger of Hawthorn Services and CHD and introduces a new elder-services division, Hawthorn Elder Care. A reception will follow the play. Tickets are $10 and $7 for seniors. The deadline to make reservations is Dec. 10. For more information, contact Janet Simeone at (413) 439-2106, or visit www.chd.org.

Victorian Crafts Workshop
Dec. 18: Celebrate the holidays by crafting ornaments and gifts from 1 to 3 p.m. in the decorative splendor of the Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke. Participants of all ages will employ Victorian techniques to make fresh orange pomanders decorated with clove designs, embellished gift boxes, and paper lanterns to hang from ceilings or on trees. The cost is $5 per person. For more information, call (413) 322-5660. The Wistariahurst is located at 238 Cabot St.

Hometown Heroes
Seeks Nominations
March 17: The American Red Cross Pioneer Valley Chapter will present its annual Hometown Heroes breakfast at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The event honors local individuals (or groups of individuals) who have shown courage, kindness, and unselfish character when a friend, family member, or stranger faced a life-threatening situation, or who have had an extraordinary impact on the community or his or her fellow man. Members of the community are invited to nominate a local hero for consideration. Honorees will be selected by a committee of individuals from our community, including former Hometown Heroes. The chapter welcomes the submission of nominations from throughout Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Nomination forms and criteria are available on the chapter Web site at www.redcrosscwm.org. Nominations must be submitted online or postmarked no later than Dec. 30, 2010. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Hometown Heroes is the chapter’s largest annual fund-raising event, helping to provide the resources necessary to serve its communities. For further information, contact Dawn Leaks at [email protected] or (413) 233-1006.

Sections Supplements
Bequeathing Life’s Lessons, Dreams, and Hopes

Gina Barry

Gina Barry

There is richness to your life that cannot be measured in dollars and cents, but should be shared with future generations. In fact, some would argue that your emotional wealth — values, ideas, beliefs, and life experience — is worth far more than your financial wealth ever could be.
Yet many times, the wisdom of the generations is lost simply because the questions were never asked and the conversations were never had. Where typical estate-planning documents falter by not conveying this intangible wealth, ethical wills fill the void.
It is likely that you have executed a last will and testament and have possibly even established a trust. You’ve probably protected yourself from times of incapacity by executing a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. By most standards, your estate plan is considered complete, but it seems that a critical aspect is missing. While these documents are crucial to addressing the legal aspects of estate planning, they are very technical and ill-suited for passing on the intangible assets you have accumulated throughout your lifetime.
Ethical wills are the spiritual counterparts to traditional wills and trusts. They distribute blessings, life lessons, dreams, and hopes, as opposed to tangible possessions. As such, the creation of an ethical will often involves serious consideration of your values and morals, advice to loved ones, invaluable memories, and important events in your life. You may also contemplate themes, such as regrets and forgiveness, personal love, mentors and teachers, cultural beliefs, ancestry, or how you would like to be remembered.
There is no set format for an ethical will because it is not a binding legal document. Unlike traditional wills, ethical wills are not written in stone and are often revised to reflect turning points and transitions in the writer’s life, such as the birth of a child, a marriage, or end-of-life planning. Each ethical will is as unique as the individual who creates it, and your personal preferences are the only constraints.
You may choose to develop and impart a family mission statement or provide blessings for future generations. An ethical will can be a letter to loved ones or to children not yet born. It may also be a detailed account of a life journey or even a set of instructions regarding your family business. Your ethical will need not be limited to writing, either. It may incorporate multimedia messages, such as photos, drawings, music, or videos. The possibilities are endless.
While some may choose to keep their ethical will private until they pass away, creating one need not be an individual endeavor. You may share your ethical will with your family, friends, and loved ones during your lifetime. Indeed, by encouraging input from others, an ethical will may serve as a tool to give them insight into your wishes and intentions. Likewise, many a family rift has been healed during the creation of an ethical will, as the process serves to promote a family cohesiveness that can heal old wounds and last well beyond your lifetime.
If the thought of creating an ethical will is overwhelming, there are various resources available to assist you, including professionals who specialize in this area. These professionals may provide an individual consultation or group writing workshops. If you desire to make an ethical will that is oral or videotaped, they can assist you with the production aspects. They can also help you ascertain what is most important for you to express, and then guide you along in the process so that you will be certain to create an ethical will that is a true reflection of you. If you are inclined to work alone on your ethical will, an Internet search will provide a variety of free resources and examples that you may use as you pursue this process.
Although they have recently gained in popularity, the concept of ethical wills is not new. Medieval models of ethical wills have been found in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic cultures. In the days of illiteracy, wills were read aloud so that all concerned may hear. Thus, it became common practice to attach one last communication to a captive audience.
Today, ethical wills are increasingly being created alongside traditional wills as part of the estate-planning process. While traditional wills are filed in probate court and become public documents, ethical wills often become privately treasured family heirlooms.
Throughout their lives, your loved ones can continuously glean wisdom and advice from the life lessons you have bequeathed in your ethical will.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; baconwilson.com/barry

Sections Supplements
Knowledge of the Law Can Be Your Best Asset When Coping with These Issues

Gina Barry

Gina Barry

Certain ideas with respect to estate planning are widely accepted, yet unfortunately, inaccurate. This article will reveal and explain the most commonly stated estate planning myths.

Myth No. 1: ‘If I have a valid will, my estate does not have to go through probate.’
Many people believe that having a will means that their estate will not have to be probated when they pass away. A will is a document that, in part, gives instructions as to the distribution of the assets in the decedent’s probate estate. The assets in the probate estate are those assets that are held in the decedent’s name alone that do not have a designated beneficiary. Thus, whether or not probate is needed is not based upon whether or not the decedent had a will; rather, it is based upon how the assets are owned by the decedent.
If the decedent left probate assets, then in order for their will to ‘speak,’ a probate estate must be opened. If all the assets held in the decedent’s name are jointly owned with a right of survivorship or have named beneficiaries, then there is no need for probate.

Myth No. 2: ‘I can give away $10,000 to as many people as I want each year, but if I give more, then I have to pay gift tax.’
This myth emanates from the gift-tax system. In 2010, the rule with respect to gift tax is that you may give up to $13,000 to as many people as you want without having to file a gift-tax return. Note that the amount that can be gifted is stated incorrectly in the myth because most people remain unaware of the ongoing increases to the allowable gift amount.
Also under the current rules, even if a gift-tax return must be filed because more than $13,000 is given to one person, the giver of the gift will not pay any gift tax until he or she has gifted more than $1 million during their lifetime. Thus, if a person has $100,000 and gives all of it away in one year to one person, they will need to file a gift tax return, but they will not owe any gift tax because the gift does not exceed the lifetime threshold.

Myth No. 3: ‘I can give away assets when I enter a nursing home and still obtain Medicaid benefits.’
When faced with a nursing home bill of approximately $8,000 per month, many people wish to obtain Medicaid benefits to pay for this care. In order to obtain Medicaid benefits, an asset limit must be met; therefore, assets valued above this amount must be reduced to the asset limit before benefits will be granted. In their efforts to reduce the excess assets, many people believe that they can gift the excess assets due to the gift-tax exclusion explained in Myth No. 2. While a person can make a gift of up to $13,000 per person in 2010 without filing a gift tax return, the Medicaid program is not governed by the gift tax rules.
The Medicaid program imposes a penalty when any assets are given away within five years of the application for benefits, except in very specific circumstances. This penalty results in being unable to obtain Medicaid benefits for at least five years after such a gift is made. Thus, a gift of any amount will typically result in a penalty being imposed even if the gift does not have to be reported on a gift-tax return.

Myth No. 4 – ‘If I need nursing home care, Medicare will pay for my care.’
In part, this myth is perpetuated due to the fact that “Medicare” sounds very much like “Medicaid,” which does pay benefits for nursing home care for approved applicants. Medicare Part A will pay for medically necessary inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility, but only following a three-day hospital stay. Medicare will pay for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care or rehabilitation services. The actual length of benefits could be much shorter than 100 days if those services are no longer required.
When Medicare benefits are paid, Medicare pays 100% of the cost for the first 20 days, but only 80% of the cost of the next 80 days. Most Medicare recipients also have Medigap insurance, which will pay the balance not paid by Medicare. When Medicare benefits are exhausted, an alternative payment source is needed to pay for ongoing nursing home care.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm of Bacon Wilson, P.C., Attorneys at Law. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Association. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships and residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Sections Supplements
It’s Real, and Its Impact Can Be Severe; How to Avoid the Epidemic

Gina Barry

Gina Barry

‘I’m so stressed out!’ ‘I just can’t take it anymore!’
Certainly, almost all of us have made one, or both, of these proclamations in response to any number of events that have occurred in our lives. Take a moment now to think of how you felt during those moments, and you will get a glimpse into the daily lives of our nation’s family caregivers.
Approximately 44 million Americans (21% of the adult population) provide unpaid care to someone in need. While most people think that nursing homes provide the majority of long-term care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that informal caregivers actually provide 80% of the long-term care in the U.S. As our population continues to age, demands for care will steadily increase, and caregiver stress, unless recognized and remedied, will become even more pervasive.
A caregiver is anyone who helps another person in need with daily tasks, such as bathing, cooking, eating, taking medications, dressing, using the bathroom, shopping, housecleaning, and the like. Typically, the person receiving care has a medical condition that makes them unable to perform these tasks for themselves, or at least without some assistance. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 61% of our nation’s caregivers are women. Our nation’s caregivers are mostly middle-aged, with 13% of caregivers being 65 years old or older.
Caregiver stress is real, and its impact can be severe. A spousal caregiver over the age of 65, who is experiencing ongoing mental or emotional stress as a result of providing care, has a greatly increased risk of dying over those people in the same age group who are not caring for a spouse. Providing care is physically and emotionally demanding, especially when the care recipient requires 24-hour care. Very often, the caregiving spouse neglects his or her own health issues, which are usually compounded by stress, because he or she is too busy addressing the care needs of the spouse. When an adult child is the caregiver, the caregiver generally experiences additional stress, as they have other responsibilities outside of caregiving, such as providing care for young children, running their own household, managing their professional life, and maintaining a busy social life.
Many caregivers provide care without realizing the impact of caregiver stress. Obvious physical signs of stress include, but certainly are not limited to, fatigue; high blood pressure; irregular heartbeat or palpitations; chest pain; back, shoulder, or neck pain; frequent headaches; digestive problems; and hair loss. Caregivers experiencing sustained stress may also exhibit a weakened immune system, which means they will be more susceptible to colds, flu, and other infections. As the majority of these signs are not open and obvious, it is important for a caregiver to be self-aware. It is also important that the caregiver be asked whether they are experiencing any of these signs.
Emotional signs of stress are usually not easily observed. These signs include a gamut of feelings, including but not limited to anxiety, depression, irritability, frustration, lack of control, and isolation. A stressed caregiver may also report or exhibit mood swings, memory problems, and/or general unhappiness with their position as a caregiver, including resentment toward the care recipient and family members who do not contribute in any meaningful way.
Additional signs of caregiver stress may be observed. The caregiver may be missing meals or eating an unhealthy diet for a period of time, such that their weight either increases or decreases dramatically. An overwhelmed caregiver will often miss or delay their appointments, whether medical or social, as they often give up their ‘me’ time. They will stop engaging in their usual activities and often lose connections with friends and family. Further, they may stifle feelings of anger and frustration, which then surface as angry outbursts directed at family, friends, co-workers, or even strangers. Overall, they may seem sad, depressed, or hopeless, and show a loss of energy.
Most often, caregivers have difficulty asking for help. Either they do not recognize the stress they are under, or they are so stressed that they feel hopeless as to help being available. Caregivers will also often express feelings of extreme guilt associated with asking someone else to provide care in their stead, even if only for a short period of time. In this regard, it is very important for the family and friends of caregivers to encourage regular respite for the caregiver and to ensure that the caregiver takes these regular breaks from caregiving. Respite can be provided in home or at a facility and may take the form of day care or involve a short stay at the facility.
In addition to regular respite, there are many ways that caregivers can reduce their stress. First and foremost, it is important for caregivers to learn about programs that are available to assist with caregiving and how to qualify for such assistance. There are a variety of programs available, including meal delivery, home health care, day care, transportation, and the like. When assistance is available through these programs, clearly it is important to accept the help offered. When a family member or friend offers to help, the caregiver should offer a list of ways to help, while allowing the friend or family member to choose what they would be most comfortable doing.
A caregiver should objectively look at the care they are providing and determine whether it may be done more efficiently. For example, it would likely be preferable to purchase a new washing machine and dryer than to continue to use a public laundromat. It may be worthwhile to obtain an emergency-response system that would allow the person being cared for to summon help if needed. Likewise, an intercom system or even a Web camera can allow for remote monitoring of the person requiring care. Finally, for dementia patients who wander, a mobility monitor may be employed that will sound an alert if the person being cared for wanders outside of a previously set range. In addition, the caregiver should prioritize tasks, use lists, and establish a daily routine with realistic goals. A caregiver should also be careful not to take on additional projects, such as hosting a holiday meal or agreeing to help with a remodeling project.
Actively taking care of their own emotional health is a must for caregivers. Some caregivers find individual counseling to be helpful for dealing with the variety of emotions that caregiving evokes. Many different support groups also exist, some of which are specific to the illness being suffered by the person in need of care.
Support groups are great for developing friendships with other caregivers and also for caregivers to learn improved ways to provide care or to cope with the difficulties they experience when providing care. It is also vital for a caregiver to remain in touch with family and friends — or for family and friends of the caregiver to make sure that they stay in touch.
Moreover, a caregiver should be sure to include some fun in their weekly schedule. Taking in a movie, going for a walk, or meeting a friend for coffee and conversation can be delightful distractions from caregiving stresses. Although some may not consider this fun, a caregiver should be sure to get regular exercise. Exercise provides stress relief and has a positive effect on mood. In addition, the caregiver should plan healthy meals and adhere to a sleep schedule that ensures they will receive adequate, ongoing rest.
When a caregiver is cognizant of the signs of caregiver stress and actively works to combat this stress, he or she will be much better able to provide care and for a much longer period of time. Whenever possible, the caregiver should not be alone in this endeavor. Family and friends should also be sure to support the caregiver and to be on the lookout for any signs of stress.
With the continued graying of our nation and the anticipated increase in caregiving by family members, if we do not adhere to these practices, our nation’s next disabling epidemic will likely be caregiver stress.

Gina M. Barry is a partner with the law firm Bacon Wilson, P.C. She is a member of the National Assoc. of Elder Law Attorneys, the Estate Planning Council, and the Western Mass. Elder Care Professionals Assoc. She concentrates her practice in the areas of estate and asset-protection planning, probate administration and litigation, guardianships, conservatorships, and
residential real estate; (413) 781-0560; [email protected]

Cover Story
How Best to Develop a Corporate Strategy That Generates Results
Cover May 10, 2010

Cover May 10, 2010

As you look around your office, is everyone just like you? Probably not.

The demographics of the American workforce have changed dramatically over the past 50 years. In the 1950s, more than 60% of the American workforce consisted of white males. They were typically the sole breadwinners in the household, expected to retire by age 65 and spend their retirement years in leisure activities. Today, the American workforce is a better reflection of the population, with a significant mix of genders, race, religion, age, and other background factors.

The long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh ideas, perspectives, and views to their work. The challenge that diversity poses, therefore, is enabling your managers to capitalize on the mixture of genders, cultural backgrounds, ages, and lifestyles to respond to business opportunities more rapidly and creatively.

Diversity is no longer just a black/white, male/female, old/young issue. It is much more complicated and interesting than that. In The Future of Diversity and the Work Ahead of Us, Harris Sussman says, “diversity is about our relatedness, our connectedness, our interactions, where the lines cross. Diversity is many things — a bridge between organizational life and the reality of people’s lives, building corporate capability, the framework for interrelationships between people, a learning exchange, a strategic lens on the world.”

A benefit of a diverse workforce is the ability to tap into the many talents which employees from different backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and disabilities bring to the workplace. An impressive example of this is found on the business cards of employees at one Fortune 100 technology company. Employees at this company have business cards that appear normal at first glance. On closer inspection, the raised Braille characters of employee information are evident.

Many companies, however, still face challenges around building a diverse environment. Part of the reason is the tendency to pigeonhole employees, placing them in a certain silo based on their diversity profile. If an employee is male, over 50, English, and an atheist, under what diversity category does this employee fall? Gender, generational, global, or religious? In the real world, diversity cannot be easily categorized, and those organizations that respond to human complexity by leveraging the talents of a broad workforce will be the most effective in growing their businesses and their customer base.

So, how do you develop a diversity strategy that gets results? The companies with the most effective diversity programs take a holistic approach to diversity by following these guidelines:

Link diversity to the bottom line. When exploring ways to increase corporate profits, look to new markets or to partnering with your clients more strategically. Consider how a diverse workforce will enable your company to meet those goals. Think outside the box. At a Fortune 500 manufacturing company, Hispanics purchased many of the products. When the company hired a director of Hispanic markets, profits increased dramatically in less than one year because of the targeted marketing efforts. Your new customers may be people with disabilities or people over the age of 65. How can your employees help you reach new markets?

Walk the talk. If senior management advocates a diverse workforce, make diversity evident at all organizational levels. If you don’t, some employees will quickly conclude that there is no future for them in your company. Don’t be afraid to use words like black, white, gay, and lesbian. Show respect for diversity issues and promote clear and positive responses to them. How can you demonstrate your company’s commitment to diversity?

Broaden your efforts. Does diversity at your company refer only to race and gender? If so, expand your definition and your diversity efforts. As Baby Boomers age and more minorities enter the workplace, the shift in demographics means that managing a multigenerational and multicultural workforce will become a business norm. Also, there is a wealth of specialized equipment available to enable people with disabilities to contribute successfully to their work environments. If your organizational environment does not support diversity broadly, you risk losing talent to your competitors. How can your recruitment efforts reach out to all qualified candidates?

Remove artificial barriers to success. The style of interview — behavioral or functional — may be a disadvantage to some job candidates. Older employees, for example, are less familiar with behavioral interviews and may not perform as well unless your recruiters directly ask for the kind of experiences they are looking for. Employees from countries outside the U.S. and non-Caucasian populations may downplay their achievements or focus on describing, who they know rather than what they know. Train your recruiters to understand the cultural components of interviews. How can your human-resources processes give equal opportunity to all people?

Retain diversity at all levels. The definition of diversity goes beyond race and gender to encompass lifestyle issues. Programs that address work and family issues — alternative work schedules and child and elder care resources and referrals — make good business sense. How can you keep valuable employees?

Provide practical training. Using relevant examples to teach small groups of people how to resolve conflicts and value diverse opinions helps companies far more than large, abstract diversity lectures. Training needs to emphasize the importance of diverse ideas as well. Workers care more about whether or not their boss seems to value their ideas than whether they are part of a group of all white males or an ethnically diverse workforce. In addition, train leaders to move beyond their own cultural frame of reference to recognize and take full advantage of the productivity potential inherent in a diverse population. How can you provide diversity training at your company?

Mentor with others at your company whom you do not know well. Involve your managers in a mentoring program to coach and provide feedback to employees who are different from them. Some of your most influential mentors can be people with whom you have little in common. Find someone who doesn’t look just like you. Find someone from a different background, a different race, or a different gender. Find someone who thinks differently than you do. How can you find a mentor who is different from you?

Measure your results. Conduct regular organizational assessments on issues like pay, benefits, work environment, management, and promotional opportunities to assess your progress over the long term. Keep doing what is working, and stop doing what is not working. How do you measure the impact of diversity initiatives at your organization?

In the book Beyond Race and Gender, R. Roosevelt Thomas defines managing diversity as “a comprehensive managerial process for developing an environment that works for all employees.” Successful strategic diversity programs also lead to increased profits and lowered expenses.

The long-term success of any business calls for a diverse body of talent that can bring fresh ideas, perspectives and views and a corporate mindset that values those views. It’s also no secret that the lack of diversity can affect your ability to communicate effectively with diverse clients.

Link your diversity strategies to specific goals like morale, retention, performance, and the bottom line. Build your business with everything you’ve got, with the complex, multi-dimensional talents and personalities of your workforce, and make diversity work for you. n

Judith Lindenberger, principal of the Lindenberger Group, LLC, and Marian Stoltz-Loike, CEO of SeniorThinking, provide human-resources learning and consulting;www.lindenbergergroup.com;www.seniorthinking.com