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Commonwealth Council on Aging 2020 Best Practices Award Winners

The Commonwealth Council on Aging is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Best Practices Awards.

First Place Second Place Third Place Third Place
Staples for Seniors & Fido’s Pantry, a program of New River Valley Agency on Aging Jimmy’s PetPals, a program of Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital Medication Safety for Older Arlingtonians, a program of Arlington Agency on Aging Volunteer Solutions’ Helping Hands Program, a program of Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging-Volunteer Solutions
Staples for Seniors and Fido’s Pantry offers food assistance to homebound seniors and their cats or dogs. The program mission is simple: eating should be a choice, not a challenge. Seniors in rural areas expressed difficulty with affording and accessing grocery items. Seniors also reported they would give their food to their pets who also needed a reliable food source. New River Valley Agency on Aging firmly believes in the human-animal bond and the importance of that relationship with homebound older adults. Since launching the program, New River Valley Agency on Aging has been able to serve 248 seniors each month with necessary groceries throughout all of Planning District 4. Fido’s Pantry provides monthly pet food assistance and supplies to 87 households out of the 248 seniors who are accessing the food assistance. Volunteers assisting with the delivery process provide social interaction for isolated older adults, and also help identify additional needs and services for the clients. The program reports a 96% satisfaction rate with clients. The program is ongoing and has also been made available to seniors not affiliated with the agency, but who are in the midst of a food crisis. The programs started small and grew quickly through the use of social media. Both donors and volunteers were garnered from engagement with the agency’s Facebook and Instagram posts. Jimmy’s PetPals is a companion pet program developed at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital to help patients with dementia have a better experience while hospitalized. The PetPals are Hasboro® “Joy for all Companion Pets;” life-like robotic dogs and cats that pant, bark, turn their heads, wag their tails, purr, meow, and roll over.” The program was initiated after a hospital employee (Abby Denby, MSN, RN, NE-BC, Director of Patient Care Services) provided a robotic companion pet to her father who was struggling while hospitalized. After initial success with the first patient, the program was expanded with financial support from the hospital’s Foundation and a grant from the Patient and Family Advisory Council. Now, any hospital staff member caring for a patient with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia who is agitated, combative or depressed can obtain a dog or cat companion pet to give to the patient in an effort to improve the patient and caregiver experience. Named in memory of the original patient, Jimmy’s PetPals have benefited 30 patients at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital so far. Clinicians and hospital staff have expressed that Jimmy’s PetPals has reduced the use of patient restraints and improve patients’ demeanors. Abby Denby at Sentara Martha Jefferson is beginning a study measuring patients’ agitation levels, restraint use and antipsychotic use before and after receiving a PetPal as well as analyzing feedback from clinical staff about their experiences caring for patients before and after receipt of a PetPal. The Arlington Agency on Aging (AAA) partnered with the Arlington’s Addiction and Recovery Initiative (AARI) to deliver drug deactivation kits for older adults in the community to safely dispose medications. AARI is a community wide stakeholders’ group that combats the opioid epidemic through prevention, outreach, training and education to practice safe disposal of medications. Following a presentation at a Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging meeting, the Arlington Agency on Aging reviewed potential opportunities to expand this program and provide information about medication safety and drug deactivation kits. Arlington AAA partnered with Arlington Virginia Insurance and Counseling Assistance Program (VICAP) to offer Medication Safety for Older Arlingtonians. VICAP achieves this goal through community events where older adults receive medication safety education, assistance with Medicare and Medicare Part D prescription coverage and signup, information on the safe disposal of medications, and drug deactivation kits. The Medication Safety for Older Arlingtonians program advances the Arlington County’s efforts toward realizing its Age Friendly Plan. In 2013, in honor of Older Americans Month, Volunteer Solutions created the Helping Hands Program (HH) to de-clutter, organize, and perform intensive yard work for older adults and adults with disabilities to allow for them to age in place safely and with dignity. The clients served by the Helping Hands Program in Fairfax are unable to perform these tasks themselves due to physical limitations and are unable to afford the service if purchased privately. Many of the clients being served are at risk of eviction or are already involved in the eviction process due to the condition of their residences. The nine Volunteer Solutions’ staff members conduct assessments to identify the needs and coordinate the activities on the day of the project. The program’s supplies and services are supported by donations from internal and external partnerships. To date, the Helping Hands program has created 37 partnerships with 757 volunteers giving 3,464 hours, valued at over $88,000. The program has served 112 clients and prevented evictions for 11 clients.

The Council gave honorable mentions to the following organizations:

  • Longevity Project for a greater Richmond for its Housing Stability Learning Labs;
  • Senior Connections, the Capital Area Agency on Aging for its Ride Connection program; and
  • Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living, Inc. for its TAKE CHARGE: Care Transitions Intervention.

To view a copy of the 2020 press release, click here. The Council has recognized organizations as examples of best practices since 2006. A list of these organizations and a brief overview of their programs can be found for 2017-2019 and  2006-2016.


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With the support of Dominion Energy, the Council is pleased to offer monetary awards to the winners. This year, the First Place program received $5,000, the Second Place program received $3,000, and each Third Place program received $1,000.


Boards, Councils, and Commissions - Background

The Aging Programs within the Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services has three advisory boards. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 2.2-2100, advisory boards provide advice and comment to an executive branch agency or office. An advisory board, commission or council serves as a formal liaison between the agency or office and the public to ensure that the agency or office understands public concerns and that the activities of the agency or office are communicated to the public. An advisory board, commission or council does not serve a regulatory or rule-making purpose. It may participate in the development of public policy by providing comment and advice.


Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Commission logo    Commonwealth Council on Aging logo    Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Advisory Board logo   

The advisory boards meet quarterly and all meetings are open to the public. All meetings will be held from 10 am to 2pm at the Aging Programs, unless otherwise noted. View directions to DARS Office for Aging Services.

Upcoming Meetings can be found on the Commonwealth Calendar. You can search by date or by keyword.



Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Commission

Established pursuant to § 51.5-154 of the Code of Virginia, the ADRD Commission develops and oversees the implementation of the Commonwealth's Dementia State Plan. Among the Commission’s duties and activities are to:

  • Examine the needs of persons with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, as well as the needs of their caregivers, and ways that state government can most effectively and efficiently assist in meeting those needs;
  • Develop and promote strategies to encourage brain health and reduce cognitive decline;
  • Advise the Governor and General Assembly on policy, funding, regulatory, and other issues related to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders;
  • Develop the Commonwealth's plan for meeting the needs of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders and their caregivers, and advocate for such plan; and
  • Establish priorities for programs among state agencies related to Alzheimer's disease and related disorders and criteria to evaluate these programs.

The Commission also sponsors a website, www.alzpossible.org, that is accessible to Virginia citizens who wish to learn more about the Commonwealth's commitment to those affected by Alzheimer's disease. This website contains information that can assist both family members and community service providers. It lists a series of free educational "webinars" on topics that impact persons dealing with the disease.

The Virginia Alzheimer's Disease and Related Disorders Commission has released the Dementia State Plan 2020-2024: Building a Dementia-Capable Virginia. The Dementia State Plan 2020-2024 [PDF] serves as a blueprint for a dementia-capable Virginia that is ready to meet the challenge of the rising numbers of citizens of the Commonwealth living with dementia or caring for individuals living with dementia. The Commission updates the plan every four years. Previous editions of the plan are available below.

More Information:

Powers, Duties & Bylaws    Reports    Members   

Dementia State Plan

Upcoming Meetings:

Electronic meetings may be viewed live at DARS YouTube DARS YouTube at the time of the meeting (usually 10am on the date above)

You can find agendas and minutes from past meetings on our SharePoint site. You can also select a committee below to see just that committee's documents.


For Questions:
George Worthington
Dementia Services Coordinator
Phone: (804) 662-9154



Commonwealth Council on Aging

Established pursuant to §§ 51.5-127 and 51.5-128 of the Code of Virginia, the CCOA promotes an efficient, coordinated approach by state government to meeting the needs of older Virginians. The CCOA supports communities that are accessible, livable, age-friendly, and promote independence. Among its duties and activities, the CCOA:

  • Examines the needs of older Virginians and their caregivers and ways in which state government can most effectively and efficiently assist in meeting those needs;
  • Advises the Governor and General Assembly on aging issues and aging policy;
  • Advocates for and assists in developing the Commonwealth's planning for meeting the needs of the growing number of older Virginians and their caregivers; and
  • Assists and advises the Department regarding strategies to improve nutritional health, alleviate hunger, and prevent malnutrition among older adults.

More Information:

Powers, Duties & Bylaws    Reports    Members

Upcoming Meetings:

  • June 17, 2020 - Electronic Meeting:
    Recording available here.
  • June 26, 2020 - Best Practices Committee - Electronic Meeting
    Recording available here.
  • August 11, 2020 - Electronic Meeting
  • August 20, 2020 - Legislative Committee Electronic Meeting
  • August 28, 2020 - Bylaws Committee Electronic Meeting
  • September 16, 2020
  • December 9, 2020

Electronic meetings may be viewed live at DARS YouTube DARS YouTube at the time of the meeting

You can find agendas and minutes from past meetings on our SharePoint site. You can also select a committee below to see just that committee's documents.


For Questions:
Charlotte Arbogast
Policy Analyst
Phone: (804) 662-7093



Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Advisory Board

Established pursuant to § 51.5-149.1 of the Code of Virginia, the VPGCAB reports to and advises the Commissioner of DARS on the Virginia Public Guardian and Conservator Program (VPGCP). The VPGCAB: Assists in the coordination and management of the local and regional programs appointed to act as public guardians and conservators:

  • Provides advice and counsel on the provision of high-quality guardianship service and avoidance of conflicts of interest;
  • Promotes the mobilization of activities and resources of public and private sector entities to effectuate the purposes of this [Code of Virginia] article; and
  • Makes recommendations regarding appropriate legislative and executive actions.

More Information:

Powers, Duties & Bylaws    Reports   

Upcoming Meetings:

  • March 5, 2020
  • June 11, 2020 - Electronic Meeting
    Recording available here
  • September 3, 2020
  • Nov 19, 2020

You can find agendas and minutes from past meetings on our SharePoint site. You can also select a committee below to see just that committee's documents.

Electronic meetings may be viewed live at DARS YouTube DARS YouTube at the time of the meeting


For Questions:
David Hominik
Legal Services Developer
Phone: (804) 662-9310


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