MB Fire, BCHD Team Up to Support Older Adults
Monday, June 12, 2017

Joyce and Roland Guitare have lived in their Manhattan Beach home since 1973, and they’re determined to stay there until the end.

It’s called “aging in place,” and like others, the Guitares get by with a little help from their friends and their community.

Sometimes that help comes from Manhattan Beach firefighters, who’ve been called to help 81-year-old Joyce get up after a fall or transport 87-year-old Roland to the hospital for a severe nose bleed. And sometimes that help comes from Shiori Lange, MSW, a care manager from Beach Cities Heath District (BCHD), who has provided a range of services to the couple including arranging for a weekend caregiver, providing a LifeLine emergency response system and delivering donated supplies.

“It was the firefighters — all of whom are also paramedics ” — who connected Lange and the Guitares. They carry her card and hand it out to isolated older adults or their caregivers when they suspect she might be able to help. It’s part of a collaboration between the MBFD and BCHD that began some 15 years ago to provide needed social services to the aging population in the small town of 35,000.

The City of Manhattan Beach funds part of Lange’s salary to support some of its low-income elderly. She has an office at the station where she can be found a couple of hours each week, when she’s not out in the field or at BCHD headquarters in Redondo Beach.

When Lange visits a home, she assesses the person’s health, psychological state, social environment and support system, in addition to performing a screening for memory deficits and depression. From there, she assists in bringing a range of services to help seniors stay independent. She might arrange for light housekeeping, meal preparation, bathing assistance or personal care. Lange can also connect residents to BCHD volunteer services to help with errands, or enlist volunteer Conversation Companions or MoveWell exercise trainers to visit.

Lange first met the Guitares in 2014 and she continues to check up on them every couple of months to bring supplies and provide emotional support. And they have nothing but good things to say about her and their local firefighters.

“The fire department has been outstanding for me and my wife,” said Roland, a retired lieutenant from the Manhattan Beach Police Department. Referring to Shiori, he added: “She’s wonderful, too.”

“The collaboration between Manhattan Beach and Beach Cities provides tremendous security for the city’s seniors,” said Jan Buike, MS, Older Adult Program Manager for the City of Manhattan Beach Parks & Recreation, who helped to initiate the partnership years ago.

“Manhattan Beach is such a small town, and it’s nice that seniors know that they can call Shiori to provide an amazing network of services to help keep them safe in their homes.

“It really does ‘take a village’ to provide a continuum of services,” Buike said. “The community as a whole is fortunate that there is a strong working relationship between these agencies.”

Manhattan Beach Fire Department Chief Robert D. Espinosa concurs: “Anytime we can share resources to have the best result for one of our residents that would be our goal.”

To consult with a Care Manager and to learn more about the programs and services available to residents through BCHD’s Community Services Department, visit www.bchd.org or call (310) 374-3426, ext. 256.