Carrying with her over 30 years of experience working with older adults, Paulette Justice hopes to improve how Kanawha Valley Senior Services meets the needs of local seniors as the organization's new executive director.
Justice joined the agency about six weeks ago after its board of directors spent several months searching for a candidate. So far, she's been getting to know the staff and learning the agency's operations.
"I don't like to sit behind a desk," she said. "I'm at the point where I want to get out and participate."
Kanawha Valley Senior Services oversees a multitude of services for seniors, from respite and in-home care to transportation, activities, counseling and meals. The organization also operates a senior center on the West Side - the Tiskelwah Center.
"I think the staff here are very good with their interactive services," she said. "A lot of the staff also has aging family members."
Justice is joining Kanawha Valley Senior Services at a significant time in senior service agencies around the country.
In addition to the task of informing the public about how the Affordable Care Act affects health care for older adults, major demographic and social changes are taking place at senior agencies as the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age.
As a group, the baby boomers tend to be "more active" in older age than previous generations, Justice said. On top of that, other older adults are staying in the workforce longer than ever before, with some people working into their 70s and 80s.
Thus, senior services agencies will need to start designing programs to cater to those changing demographics.
"We'll probably have to do some reinventing of our services," she said.
Justice said she would like to see the agency better promote its current services as well. The Tiskelwah Center, she said, is a very safe and clean place for older adults to go, but awareness of the facility isn't as high as she would like it to be.
"I think people see the building down there and they don't know what we have there," she said.
There are also programs in which Justice thinks Kanawha Valley Senior Services is already excelling, like respite care, which provides relief and assistance for caregivers of older adults.
"I think that's a great service we offer folks," she said.