RESOLUTION URGING COMPLETION OF A FEASIBILITY STUDY TO
LOCATE A SENIOR WELLNESS CENTER IN WARD 3
- The District Office of Aging and Community Living (OACL) operates six physical senior wellness centers located in Wards 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. No physical senior wellness centers are located in Wards 2 or 3, however.
- In lieu of an actual senior wellness center, OACL provides a “virtual” senior wellness center — AroundTownDC — for Wards 2 and 3. AroundTownDC operates at several locations in Wards 2 and 3, including hospitals, libraries, churches, rec centers, and senior homes.
- AroundTown provides an important service connecting seniors to available activities, but it does not address seniors’ critical need for a physical place to gather and to receive wellness services.
- Census data shows that Ward 3 has more seniors per capita than the rest of the District — about 17% of the Ward 3 residents are age 65 and older compared with about 13% District-wide.
- Social isolation is a problem for older adults that affects both their physical and mental health and is linked to more rapid cognitive decline. More than 58% of DC’s older adults live alone, running a greater risk of social isolation.
- Senior wellness centers are a significant element in the District’s strategy for addressing this social isolation among older adults.
- The permanent staff at a wellness center can also observe changes in seniors’ health and provide proactive support that is not available on a virtual platform.
- Moreover, the lack of physical senior wellness centers can lead to denial of important benefits to seniors that such centers ordinarily do not provide. Recently, the Mayor announced availability of COVID-19 testing kits for seniors (only) in 6 of 8 wards. The rationale for this disparity, so far as we can tell, was that the test kits were offered at the senior wellness centers in those wards. Because Wards 2 and 3 lack wellness centers, seniors in those wards were denied availability of these kits in their ward.
- The District’s Comprehensive Plan Policy Map designates significant portions of Ward 3 along the Connecticut Avenue and Wisconsin Avenue corridors as Future Planning Analysis Areas, and the Office of Planning is currently engaged in, or plans soon to be engaged, in collaborative planning processes for those corridors in Chevy Chase, Friendship Heights, Tenleytown, Cleveland Park, and Woodley Park.
- These initiatives can and should include planning for a senior wellness center in addition to other social needs.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED:
- Based on the persistent, acute need for a physical wellness center to serve seniors in Ward 3, we urge the Mayor, DACL, the Office of Planning, and the District Council conduct an options and visioning study to identify potential sites for and the feasibility of a brick-and-mortar senior wellness center located in Ward 3. The study should consider whether other unmet needs in Ward 3, such as the need for a teen center, might be addressed in the same new building. The study should be coordinated with the Office of Planning’s ongoing planning initiatives in Ward 3. At a minimum, the study should be completed in time to inform the upcoming Friendship Heights small area planning process.
The resolution passed by a vote of 0-0-0 at a properly noticed meeting held on January 13, 2022, at which a quorum was present, with Commissioners Bender, Cohen, Hall, McHugh, and Quinn in attendance.
by Jonathan Bender