Surviving and Thriving through Strategic Partnerships

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Client Spotlight: Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley

    Since its inception in 1974, Elder Services has been a catalyst for creative programming and meaningful partnerships with other agencies.  The agency mission has both broadened the scope and quality of community long term care services with the cooperation and collaboration between the elder and disabled service network.   As Joan Hatem Roy, Elder Services CEO and area native explained, “The Merrimack Valley has a proud history of strong communities, and a sense of extended partnerships that care for one another.  This includes the nonprofit sector who has worked together for years.”

    Forging partnerships and developing trust has enabled Elder Services to extend their service options not only in community care but in working with health care organizations in preventive and transitional care services.  This includes creating the Healthy Living Center of Excellence in 2008 which has become a national model for collaboration.  The programs offered through the Center of Excellence, are evidenced based education programs that help people better manage chronic health conditions and empower them to be better health care consumers. The Center works with 90 different organizations throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to offer 14 different evidenced based health care programs. In turn, state, federal, philanthropic foundations and even health plans have helped fund new programs and work with Elder Services staff to expand this collaborative program to other states in the nation.

    Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley has been recognized as a leader in aging services and innovation.  ESMV and the Northeast Independent Living Program (NILP), a long-time partner in the Merrimack Valley Aging & Disability Resource Consortium (MV ADRC), formed the Merrimack Valley Community Partnership (MVCP) and became certified by Mass Health as Community Partner for Long Term Support Services to working with health systems to help consumers’ navigate resources.  They were also one of the first organizations in the nation to partner with six hospitals in the Merrimack Valley to provide transitional coaching services through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services (CMS).   Additionally, their state home care services continue to expand, and they contract with over 70 service providers to meet the care needs of over 8,000 consumers daily.  

    As CEO, Joan sees the next 3 to 5 years as a continuation of growth and expansion in services and programs.  Some agency programs have expanded to southern New Hampshire and beyond the Merrimack Valley region.  New funding is forging new partnerships with disability agencies to serve a broader population of need not limited by age.  Collaborative programs and education helps Elder Services staff stay current on topics of interest and innovation in other parts of the nation.  

    The agency’s  focus will always be to empower people to better manage their lives and maximize their abilities as they age.  Their partnerships enhance their abilities to serve a broader need, and spur on their passion for innovation in quality service delivery and programming.

    As a result of her experience, Joan does have advice for those that are considering collaborations and partnerships. While Massachusetts and the Merrimack Valley in particular, has invested in Human Services, Joan encourages organizations to look closely at that investment to see what is already available. Knowing what is already out there, and finding the expertise, will help avoid the trap of reinventing the wheel. Leaders should look for infrastructure that already exists as those organizations already have a sense of the community and sensitivities concerning it. 

    During a time when restructuring, shifts in funding, and changes in consumer behavior are causing competition among many nonprofits, Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley is experiencing success and growth through collaborations and partnerships. To learn more about Elder Services, please visit