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DHS News July 2011

pdf.gif July 2011 DHS Newsletter

OCR, AAA work together to achieve '100 percent' success with Better Choice, Better Health

The Better Choices, Better Health program experienced record-high enrollment numbers for the spring and summer workshops.

Better Choices, Better Health is a program of DHS Area Agency on Aging, Vintage, Inc., and the United Way of Allegheny County. The six-week workshop is held once a week for two and a half hours in community settings such as senior centers, churches, libraries and hospitals. The workshops are intended for adults age 60 and older with chronic health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and stroke. Workshops are conducted by trained leaders who also serve as peers for the workshop participants.

AAA and OCR collaboration
DHS Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and the DHS Office of Community Relations (OCR) worked collaboratively to achieve the record-high enrollment numbers during this summer’s workshops. OCR created a communications plan that included advertisements, posters and flyers at senior centers, articles in local newspapers and other outreach efforts that helped increase awareness and interest in the program and as a result also helped increase enrollment.

“I worked together with OCR staff to publicize workshops that were held this spring at 18 locations throughout Allegheny County,” said John Miller, Project Coordinator for the AAA Chronic Disease Self-Management Program. “I was very pleased with their input and work on this process, and feel that their efforts on the publicity campaign helped us to achieve a 100 percent success
rate in terms of launching workshops.”

In order for a workshop to launch, there must be at least 10 participants at the first workshop meeting.

“This spring that occurred for the first time for all 18 of our workshops,” said Miller. “In the past, we had to cancel some workshops due to low enrollment numbers.”

Fall workshops
Better Choices, Better Health will be offered at 18 locations this fall, as well. Workshops start dates will range from September 15 to October 11.

Through these weekly sessions, workshop attendees learn:

  • techniques to deal with problems such as frustration, fatigue, pain and isolation;
  • appropriate exercise for maintaining and improving strength, flexibility and endurance;
  • appropriate use of medications;
  • how to effectively communicate with family, friends and health professionals;
  • proper nutrition benefits; and
  • how to evaluate new treatments.

Each participant in the workshop receives a copy of the program’s companion book called “Living a Healthy Life with Chronic Conditions,” and those who graduate from the program receive an audio CD called “Time for Healing.” The book and CD help participants maintain healthy lives beyond the program.

For more information about Better Choices, Better Health, including workshop locations and starting dates, call 412-350-4242 or visit www.alleghenybetterhealth.org.

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