The Pittsburgh Foundation

Themes Heard from Senior Providers

Below is what the Foundation's Program and Policy department staff heard after reaching out to nonprofit senior providers to better understand their concerns, challenges and needs to inform our most immediate grantmaking, convening and public policy activities.

Senior centers have closed and suspended all center-based services, though many are figuring out ways to provide and are making wellness calls to maintain connections and identify needs.  

“For people who depend on us for meals, we have to meet those needs no matter what. People can pick it up or maybe we have to deliver to them?”  

Seniors face significant barriers to accessing reliable information, especially in light of senior center closures, where information is provided verbally and in writing as opposed to via email or on digital platforms, which seniors are less likely to use. 

Residential providers expressed concerns about looming staffing shortages related to illness, especially because some COVID-related regulations require more staff time. Leaders are trying to determine how they can creatively re-allocate staff to help meet requirements and patient needs.

“The anxiety among staff is getting worse every day.” 

Residential providers expressed concern about lost revenue, as reductions in their outpatient services are already resulting in revenue loss for these organizations.

“Lost revenue from outpatient therapy and slowed admissions for short-term therapy, as a nonprofit, (those resources are) exceptionally important to us, and (not having them) puts in a financially compromising position financially.”  

Senior and family morale is a major concern among all providers, due to senior center closings and restrictions on visitation restrictions and communal eating in residential settings.

“We’re trying to use technology to keep family members in touch with our residents, to increase socialization of residents, which is so important for well-being for both residents and family-members. To give someone a little of assurance and comfort would be huge.”

Recommendations for Providing Support to Senior Providers

  • Provide operating support to organizations to help address unexpected costs such as increases in staff over-time, temporary staff and child care, as well as funding for supplies for home delivery.
  • Provide emergency funding for individuals, including cash, gift cards and food. 
  • Assist senior centers with convening and coordinating their responses to this crisis.
  • Provide funding to understand the interdependence of nonprofits. For community-based providers that are in the communities that they serve, there is an ecosystem on which they rely.
  • Encourage volunteering and cooperation between private companies and nonprofits regarding donations of needed items.