One of my favorite lines to use with the athletes that I get to coach is, “Will it be easy? No! Will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!” This saying has taken on another, non-sports related, meaning to me as Hawkeye Valley, Scenic Valley, and Northland Area Agencies on Aging have worked to merge our agencies over the past year.
Like anything else, this challenge has had its bumps in the road, trying to merge policies and procedures can be a tedious and mundane task. Trying to develop a system for employees that are fair and equitable across 18 counties can be very difficult, but it is also one of the most important aspects of this transition. The thing that I have been the most impressed with is that the number one priority for all of the employees involved with this merger has been; the people needing our support!
I have said from the beginning that this transition can NOT have a negative effect on the services and supports that people rely on. Those that we serve and their families must continue to get the support they need in a way that is respectful and provides opportunities for independence. If we can accomplish this one goal then this transition will be a success. One of the questions that I get most often is about these services and what is going to change. My answer, while simple, is truly what we are striving for…Nothing will change!
We will continue to have offices (access points) in Decorah, Dubuque, Waterloo, and Grinnell. The meal sites that people attend will still be there and services will still be offered in all 18 counties. The only change that people may see will be an increase in support options and an increase in ways to access those services. One example of this is the current Aging and Disability Resource Center model in place at Hawkeye Valley. This support network will expand to include all 18 counties, bringing people closer to services in a more efficient and effective way.
The energy and commitment to quality service, mission, and core values has been universal among all of the employee of the three organizations. Bringing this focus, this knowledge, and this attitude together under one organization will serve to enhance services, streamline delivery, and expand opportunities for individuals to stay in their homes, age with dignity and respect, and self-direct the supports they need and want.
All three agencies are working together to create one organization designed upon best practices, common mission, and a shared set of core values all centered around the individual in need.
Will it be easy? No! Will it be worth it? ABSOLUTELY!