Alameda County Planning Intiative


September 22, 2015 – Last month, the Planning Committee working on the County’s Plan for Older Adults heard a compelling presentation by Lillian Schaechner, who directs the Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services’ Older Adult System of Care. Lillian began by asking us to imagine a society where we challenge assumptions about health and ability among older adults, value their contributions and see them as capable of growth, change and learning.

Even though mental health problems are more common than heart disease, lung disease and cancer combined, stigma and misunderstanding complicate efforts to effectively address this health priority. This is especially true in the case of older adults. Nearly 20% of Americans age 55+ experience depression and anxiety disorders (the most common mental health diagnoses for older adults), and the suicide rate is about 50% higher among older adults compared to the nation as a whole. Yet the general public and even many healthcare professionals believe the myth that depression is a normal part of aging, and societal assumptions lead us to conclude that dementia is the root of an older adult’s mood and behavior changes.

ACBHCS’s Older Adult System of Care currently provides services – via contracts and county programs – to 2,427 older adults age 60+ per year. This is only 7% of the total clients served by BHCS. In order to really begin to address the need for mental health services and supports for older adults in the county, Lillian recommends a collaborative approach that includes educating ourselves (health/social service providers and stakeholders), investing in programs and practices that work, and tapping into multiple funding streams so individuals can get the support they need.

To learn more about the programs and services that the Older Adult System of Care currently provides, click here for Lillian’s powerpoint presentation. If you would like information on BHCS’s Mental Health First Aid Training (Older Adult Module), contact Paul Takayanagi at

Click here for a fact sheet on Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services’ ACCESS program, a system wide point of contact for information, screening and referral for mental health and substance use disorder services and treatment.

July 7, 2015 – Click here to go to SSC’s Survey Toolkit, where you’ll find suggestions for distribution and .pdfs of surveys in seven languages.

February 12, 2015 – The Planning Committee charged with shepherding the development of the Alameda County Plan for Older Adults met for the first time on February 3. The meeting focused on developing key elements and structure in preparation for the kick-off meeting on March 18. Meeting minutes and a narrative will be posted soon.

January 7, 2015 – Last June’s Board of Supervisors directive envisioned a comprehensive, integrated and sustainable plan of service delivery to older adults – spanning and, ideally, connecting the silos of agencies and departments. As the funding elements of the County Aging Initiative have moved forward, a lot has been happening behind the scenes to design the planning process. Here’s the summary:

The initiative coincides with the county’s obligation to conduct a county-wide needs assessment and develop an Area Plan for the Older Americans Act services administered through the AAA. So the Area Plan process will form the backbone of the “bigger” agency-spanning plan, and the planning process will be public and engage the entire community of stakeholders – seniors, caregivers, and CBOs included. To guide the process of assessment and planning an ad hoc committee will be formed, attached to the County Commission on Aging, with seats representing a range of stakeholders and expertise. Expect this committee to be formally launched at the Commission’s January 12 meeting, with recruitment underway soon after.

During the design phase of the last few months, the staff and leadership at HCSA and SSA (including the AAA, Public Health and Behavioral Health) have been both accessible and open to ideas. Their actions convey a clear recognition that the County Aging Initiative is a high priority; both agencies have put resources in place for the staffing, facilitation and activities needed for a robust and participatory planning process.

Have questions? Feel free to email


November 14, 2014 – On October 27, a joint hearing of the Alameda County Supervisors’ Health and Social Services Committees heard an update from Social Services Agency Director Lori Cox and Health Care Services Agency Director Alex Briscoe on the progress of the county’s new aging services initiative. This was the first chance for Supervisors outside of the Social Services Committee to be exposed to the elements of the initiative and to ask questions. I recommend watching the video.

Click here for the powerpoint presentation that accompanied Lori Cox’s report. Click here to go to the county web page where you can view the recorded hearing (scroll down to the “BOS Committee Meetings” and select one of the viewing options for the October 27 “Special Meeting and Joint Health & Social Services Committee”).

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