Oregon’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection announced Tuesday it is opening a statewide toll-free telephone service that will help with access to information related to aging and living with disabilities.

Scott Bond, director of the Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments based in Albany, said that the council has been participating in the pilot program for the last six months.

“It’s a great idea,” Bond said. “We’ve been involved in the testing and we support it.”

Bond said his agency is one of only three or four areas in the state that have been involved in the early marketing phases of the program on a test basis. He said pilot testing for the program has been going on for six months.

The program sets up a number through which a person can be connected with the proper agency simply by providing a ZIP code.

“Some people may be turned off by the idea of an automated service but it routes callers directly to staff and a live person,” Bond said.

The number is 1-855-673-2373 or 1-855-ORE-ADRC.

“Having a single access point makes it easy for anyone to call to get what they need,” said Mike McCormick, deputy director of the aging and disabilities program at the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The system is designed for older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers and families to be able to more quickly access services and information concerning their health and long-term care needs.

“For our agency, it’s a great front door,” Bond said. “Once our staff gets the call, they can really hone in on the issue.”

Bond said that for instance, a caller in Chicago seeking to find an elderly or disabled family member will be directed to the right community to find that person.

“From there we can do any number of things, whether it be making a referral, sending an information package, setting up an appointment or even sending out a staff member for a home visit,” Bond said.

According to the Aging and Disability Resource Connection, local community phones received more than 30,000 calls last year. Bond said that during the six months of testing, calls were minimal but most of that was because there were only a few areas participating throughout the state.

Elaine Young, manager of the State Unit on Aging at DHS, said the feedback from those callers who have participated has indicated that the new line meets a need.

“They finally know where to go to get the information and support they need,” she said.

Bond said it has great value for people from somewhere else in the state or even out of state who need to access someone in Linn and Benton County.

For more information about the service, call 1-855-ORE-ADRC or go to www.adrcoforegon.org. The website is also available in Spanish by clicking on “espanol” on the lower left side of the home page.

Steve Lathrop is the business reporter for the Albany Democrat-Herald. He can be reached at 541-812-6076 or by email at steve.lathrop@lee.net.

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