New County Web Site Focuses on Seniors and the Disabled

Aug. 5, 2002
Register-Pajaronian

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - Finding the right information and resources just got a little easier for Santa Cruz County’s seniors and persons with disabilities.

The county announced Monday a new service for the elderly, people with disabilities, caregivers and service providers: a Web site called Network of Care.

The multilingual site is designed to improve and better coordinate long-term care services, information and education for the county’s 26,000-plus seniors and persons with disabilities.

The new service was created in hopes of empowering seniors, the disabled, and their caregivers by helping them find services and assistive devices, manage their affairs and important records, educate themselves about issues of concern, and communicate with elected officials about current policy initiatives.

Network of Care is a pilot program sponsored by a Long-Term Care Innovation Grant from the California Department of Aging. Started in 2001 as a public-private venture with Trilogy Integrated Resources LLC and Local Communities Network in Alameda and Sacramento counties, the program is a response to state legislation passed in July 2000.

The legislation set aside money for organizations to develop creative solutions to help Californians “age in place,” making greater use of services that enable them to remain in their own homes and communities as long as possible.

“The end goal is to help the community age with dignity,” states a press advisory released by the county. “Network of Care empowers seniors and people with disabilities and makes in-home care easier …”

The Web site includes daily news articles concerning aging and disabilities; information about diseases, caregiving and situations in which readers may find themselves; a comprehensive directory of the roughly 200 service providers in the county; and databases described as “easy to search” regardless of your literacy level, English fluency or technological savvy.

Large-print and text-only versions of the site are easily accessible.

Network of Care is available in several languages, including English, Spanish and Cantonese. All services are free of charge.

Service providers can also benefit from the new Web site by using its message boards and chat rooms to share challenges and ideas, or by building their own free Web sites in the For Providers section.

Network of Care is also currently developing Web sites to serve other California counties, including Monterey, Butte, Contra Costa, Kings and San Diego counties.

Network of Care can be accessed on the Internet by going to http://santacruz.networkofcare.org.