October 30, 2015


CCSLS Logo

A new program from Contra Costa Senior Legal Services (CCSLS) reaches out to seniors in their own homes. From Pittsburg to San Ramon, CCSLS is delivering Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney to seniors in need.

CCSLS is a private non-profit that provides free civil legal services to Contra Costa county residents, ages 60 or older. The organization’s work prioritizes aid to seniors in economic and social need and seeks to create an important safety net for these vulnerable clients. A vital component of this effort is empowering seniors to define their medical and financial wishes, and the Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney workshop program addresses this need.

Unique in its collaborative and holistic approach, the Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney workshop program puts CCSLS in partnership with senior housing in-house support staff to set up two-part workshops. Executive Director Verna Haas personally leads the first session. Her focus is on developing a framework for understanding the documents associated with Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney, and she offers an accessible discussion of the purpose of each document and legal requirements for creating it. The following week, CCSLS returns with four to six attorneys. These attorneys are a mix of both CCSLS staff and volunteers, and they meet one-on-one with seniors to draw up their documents. A volunteer notary is on hand, so the documents can be finalized immediately.

For many of the seniors touched by CCSLS, such as the residents of Stoneman Village and Valley Vista senior housing, signing on the dotted line means security, comfort, and closure. Seniors participating in the Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney workshops may be ailing, weak, poor, or dependent. Many report to CCSLS how relieved they are to have their medical wishes expressed formally, or their financial matters set to be handled by someone they trust, should the need arise.

The workshop program is just one of many offered by CCSLS over its last thirty years of operation. In addition to Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney, CCSLS leverages financial support from the Area Agency on Aging, Community Development Block Grants, IOLTA and EAF grants, and private donations to assist with housing, consumer, and restraining order matters, among others. This work is done in the organization’s Concord office, while CCSLS also offers more than a dozen monthly clinics in county senior centers and at a Rossmoor clinic. As for the Advance Healthcare Directives and financial Powers of Attorney workshop program, CCSLS plans to take it to Brentwood next, followed by Walnut Creek and Antioch.

New Workshop Partners CCSLS with Senior Housing In-House Support Staff

Organizations mentioned/involved: Contra Costa Senior Legal Services (CCSLS)