The Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) is often a client’s first point of contact with CICOA, either through a phone call, an online request, or an in-person Options Counseling session. The department of 29 staff members has traditionally worked in the office full time under the leadership of Nicole Annen, ADRC Director.
When the COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of the CICOA building in March, there was a serious learning curve as we transitioned to working from home full time. The department had recently started allowing staff to work remotely, but only for one or two days per week. It was quite an undertaking to make the transition to working from home five days per week.
There were many challenges to overcome, and staff were having to start from scratch. Our biggest issue was that when the city began to shut down, community members did not know where to turn. The most common requests we received were for essential items, groceries and prepared meals. With agencies, organizations and businesses restricting their hours of operation or closing altogether, along with limiting who was permitted to utilize certain resources or changing how a resource could now be accessed, people were at a loss.
The resource database that we traditionally use daily was not enough to assist us during this time, so ADRC staff had to think creatively to address these needs. The staff compiled their own database to help the community and located 175 unique resources to assist callers. These resources came from Facebook, Nextdoor, scouring government websites, calling grocery stores directly, and word of mouth. Staff verified each resource before sharing any information with callers.
Callers were relieved to know that CICOA was staying open through this pandemic. As ADRC staff helped them navigate through this difficult time by providing supportive listening and referrals to resources to meet their needs, callers shared their gratitude, tears and appreciation. The dedicated staff in this department stepped up to the challenge exceptionally well. We continue to help the community navigate through this pandemic and provide hope and direction.
One call opens the door to community resources and long-term care options.