Due to the growth of the unmet health care needs in Orange County, the Board of San Clemente Seniors, Inc. (SCS), in February 1994, voted to establish a regional Board to carry on all of South Orange County programs and services with the exception of the Leo Fessenden Adult Day Health Care Center (LFADHCC) in San Clemente, California. Consequently, South County Senior Services, Inc. (SCSS) evolved and became a regional, non-profit corporation as of January 1995, continuing to help fulfill needs of seniors and establishing the much needed prevention programs. In January 2010 South County Senior Services changed our name to Age Well Senior Services.
Age Well Senior Services is a legally incorporated 501(c)(3) non profit, public benefit corporation and has DBAs as South County Senior Services, South County Adult Day Services (SCADS), Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center (FSMSC), and San Clemente Seaside Senior Center. Our history of service that follows is that of SCS.In 1975, SCS was founded to meet the many needs of senior citizens in South Orange County due to a lack of services. For FY 1975-76, a Revenue Sharing Block Grant was awarded to SCS to provide services in San Clemente. This program continued successfully until September 1984. Funding was received from the Older Americans Act (OAA) for FY 1977-78, for the development of a multipurpose senior services program in San Clemente.
These programs formed a base of services upon which the beginnings of a South County Service Network was established. Within three years, SCS: 1). funded a van with the local transportation agency; 2). started a home-delivered meals program; 3). opened an Adult Day Health Care Center; 4). secured major funding for a Senior Center; and 5). began to actively seek, and thereby, received funding for a HUD 202 low-income senior housing project.
Amidst these activities, SCS was recruited by the Orange County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) near the end of FY 1980-81 to assume contractual responsibility for the AAA programs being operated by the Saddleback Valley Unified School District in the San Juan Capistrano and Saddleback Valley areas. Because the school district wanted to give up the contractual responsibility and SCS was the only viable organization available with the requisite experience, the AAA assigned three contracts for services (Titles III-B, C-1, and C-2) to SCS.
SCS was able to make the transition for FY 1981-82 without missing a single day of service in their expanded service area. This was accomplished in spite of the need to locate and establish new offices, a new meal site, and a new food provider (caterer). In fact, service levels actually increased significantly over previous levels during that first year. Once these objectives were accomplished, SCS initiated a process of establishing and developing new sites and services, implementing the goal of a South County Service Network. Monies were sought to build a permanent senior location in the Saddleback Valley, with the result that over $500,000 was allocated for a community center in Mission Viejo with a senior wing in the master plan.
In May of 1983 a meal site was established at a new community center in Laguna Hills (Iglesia Community Park). In the fall of 1983, a new location was opened in San Juan Capistrano in conjunction with the City’s Recreation Department, offering greater seating capacity, improved senior access, and a co-location of services. In FY 1982-83, Title III-B social services were unified under one contract for the entire South County service area.
In FY 1983-84, a similar unification was completed for the Title III C-1 and C-2 programs. At the same time, services were expanded to include a major Case Management Program, where nurses visit the home and develop a care plan, throughout the South County Service Area. This development led to SCS being accepted as a United Way Agency in November 1983 with an annual grant of $21,000.
SCS received approval for a HUD 202 senior housing project to be built in San Clemente, with a grant of over $4 million. On April 11, 1984 it was announced that a $2,000 Disneyland Community Service Award be bestowed upon SCS for the outstanding volunteerism developed in its HDM’s program. During the 1984-1985 contract year, San Clemente Seniors, DBA South County Senior Services, expanded services to 12 locations (one presently does HDM only). Additional sites, where service expansion occurred during the years 1986-88, were: the City of Newport Beach--two sites were designated for service; the City of Irvine--began congregate meals in addition to its successful HDM; and the City of Dana Point, the Del Obispo Community Center--set aside a room and desk for our senior programs. In April, 1989 the long awaited Mission Viejo and Senior Wing (funded by Prop. 30) opened to serve congregate and home-delivered meals. The Laguna Hills Seniors moved into rented space in the Willowtree Shopping Center in 1986 with the support of the Freedom Village Contract.
In the senior housing area, we provided contractual technical assistance for the Freedom Village Lifecare Project in the Saddleback Valley area. We also supported the HUD Section 202 project in Laguna Beach by securing their additional county grant to make the project feasible. This development, called Vista Aliso, encompasses 72 units. Presently, two more housing projects are being pursued. A permanent senior center has been established in Laguna Niguel under the auspices of the City of Laguna Niguel.
The continuum of services for in-home support is ongoing, including case management, home delivered meals program, home health care and chore assistance. A Respite Registry was established to assist family members with guidance, information, and referrals for services to help relieve the stress from caregiving. Tax-exempt bond financing in 1990-1991, enabled a new state-of-the-art Adult Day Health Care Center to be built in San Clemente. The 8,000 square foot Center opened in March 1991 and is serving 60 frail elderly daily with a licensed capacity ultimately of 95.
In May 1993, St. Joseph's Hospital asked SCS to take over the Adult Day Health Care Center in Laguna Hills. With the approval of the regional Board of Directors at SCSS, the program was moved to its own building in May 1994, and opened the Dr. Gerald Bernath Alzheimer's Unit on September 1, 1995.
Property for a new Senior Center for Laguna Hills was donated to us on July 22, 1994, and the Florence Sylvester Memorial Senior Center was built in 1999.
The efforts to establish a continuum of care in all of South County have been successful. We are now pleased to announce the opening of the new Dorothy Visser Senior Center in 2011 in San Clemente.