Lutheran Senior Services (LSS) Team Member Alice Quinlan is getting ready to help improve lives for older adults as part of The Illinois Department on Aging’s newly created Senior Housing Residents’ Advisory Council. The Council is designed to make recommendations to improve access to quality benefits, services, and supports for older adults and their caregivers.
“It’s nice to have an opportunity to bring a voice to the table, to bring attention to the desperate need for seniors to have fair housing,” said Alice, Assistant Manager at Westfield Manor, an LSS affordable housing community in Belleville, Illinois.
The new council creates a space and opportunity for older Illinoisans to connect with each other and meet with representatives from the Department on Aging and the Department of Public Health to share their ideas on how the state can improve the quality of life for its older residents. The council will share their findings and recommendations on targeted services and supports for older adults with the Governor and the General Assembly.
“It’s quite an honor,” said Alice. “There is a huge need for seniors. They are often forgotten about in society.”
Alice, who has been at Westfield Manor for eight years, was nominated by Missy Schmidtke, an AgeSmart representative, who visits Westfield Manor to help residents with Medicare and answer questions. “She asked if I minded her putting my name in for consideration for the Council. I said ‘Sure’ but never in a million years did I expect to be selected!”
“We are so proud of Alice and the role she will play, and the difference she will make. She has all of our full support,” said Angie Prost, Community Manager at Westfield Manor.
The council consists of 21 members appointed by or representing Public Health and Aging departments throughout Illinois, as well as older adults who reside in affordable housing communities and their family members.
“Out of a board of 21 people, there’s one person representing facility staff and it’s me for the whole state of Illinois. I had to read that message several times!”
All of this attention has been humbling and a role reversal for Alice. “I’ve always been in supporting roles. I was an assistant and admin for 31 years. I worked on many projects, but I was usually the background, support person. So, this has been interesting for me.”
She is looking forward to working with councilmembers to identify barriers to older adults feeling supported by and connected to their communities, review available resources and services for older adults, and evaluate state outreach to older adults.
“The creation of this council is an immense step in providing services to the Aging community,” said Paula Basta, Director of Illinois Department on Aging in a welcome letter.
The council will hold quarterly meetings online to make participation more easily accessible for members across the state.
Alice looks forward to using her experience to strongly advocate for her region, helping identify all the barriers hindering older adults and their caregivers.
“We can bring it down to the ground level and show what it really looks like. I’m glad to be able to be part of it and hope to see great changes that benefit the senior population,” said Alice.