San Bernardino County (SBC) represents the largest geographical county in the contiguous United States, and the fifth largest county by population in California. Yet its regional plan has one goal: greater collaboration with “public and private sector organizations” to make sure San Bernardino County seniors are aware of the programs and services available to them (page 25). Formulated by the San Bernardino County Area Agency on Aging, the plan represents how large and complex areas can often be best served by singular focus.
San Bernardino has an average age younger than California as a whole. As a county, it is not growing overall. Nonetheless, its older population is projected to grow substantially: from 391,477 in 2010 to 539,601 residents in 2020 (page 10).
Other plan highlights include:
- San Bernardino County is large and complex. It has a large percentage of older residents living in rural areas under extreme weather conditions. This in turn impacts the time it takes to deliver needed services (page 12-13). In addition, “funding for programs from the Older Americans Act (OAA) and state funding are not keeping pace with senior growth and demand for services” (page 11).
- Preparation is everything. SBC has a 34-year history of including seniors in the planning process. There are seven regional councils on aging all with the participation and integration of seniors. With over 19,000 respondents to recent surveys and public hearings, San Bernardino knows what its residents want and has many successful local programs addressing older adult needs, ranging from transportation (San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG)) to health services (page 16).
- The solution to SBC’s singular goal lies in the implementation of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program, offered by the Administration on Aging. The program focuses on coordinating services and disseminating information. This is strategic for two reasons: 1) many current residents are unaware of existing local services, and 2) using a pre-existing federal program lowers costs.
How to Use
San Bernardino County has created what appears to be a realistic forecast for its needs within a three-year period. Recognizing that greater funding was not imminent, SBC recognized its own strengths, consolidated where necessary, and found a pre-existing solution. Planners must know what makes their own areas unique - including existing services, and needs in order to formulate effective solutions. Moreover, they should embrace elegant and simple solutions for those needs when appropriate.
View full report: San Bernardino County Age Plan – 2009-2012 (PDF – 3.8 MB)