A focus group of West County people met Wednesday at the WCCS Senior Center to review existing County programs intended to help area seniors.

Norine Doherty, from the County’s Human Services Department, listened to the group’s descriptions of and appreciation for the programs that are available through the Senior Center.

But the group expressed a need for more outreach to the vulnerable elderly population. Many seniors do not know what programs are available and therefore don’t take advantage of them. They don’t know about the programs for in-home counseling, providing medical supplies, food distribution, companionship, shared activities and events offered at the Center.

The group indicated a need in particular for more help with transportation for the elderly in the West County.  Ms. Doherty reported that a new program is in the works to provide regular shuttles from Guerneville to medical facilities in Santa Rosa, and vouchers for bus and taxi service.

The group’s discussion led to the importance of senior involvement with the community as a whole, including involvement through volunteer work, as a way of reaching others and letting them know what is available. It became clear that computer-based communications are not very effective, as computers are generally not the source of information for most seniors in the area.

Ms. Doherty will take the information and ideas she gathered from the group back to shape her work in the Adult and Aging Division of the Sonoma County Human Services Department..