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Organization - Ethos

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Last updated on March 27, 2015


Ethos is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting independence, dignity and well-being among the elderly and disabled through quality, affordable and culturally-appropriate home and community-based care.


Home Care
Every elder wants to stay at home for as long as possible. The Ethos Home Care Program helps elders achieve this goal through an array of in-home assistance. Provided through professionally trained case managers, its services complement those provided by families and other professionals. Eligibility is based on income and inability to complete everyday tasks such as bathing, dressing, housework, meal preparation or laundry.

The actual mix of services varies according to client needs and wishes. These may include home delivered meals, housekeeping, assistance with bathing and transportation to medical appointments. Respite services are also available so that loved ones can take time off and avoid burn-out.

Caregiver Support
Ethos knows caregiving is more than a full-time job. It also knows that the stress and confusion associated with caregiving are often overwhelming. That is why Ethos offers a range of services to help make caregiving easier and less isolating. One such service is our caregiver advisor. A trained caregiver advisor is available to meet with you in your home or at our office to discuss with you ways to make caregiving less demanding. Other services include business and community seminars, peer support groups, family respite, advocacy,and in-home training.

Long Term Care Ombudsman
The Long Term Care Ombudsman program provides specially trained volunteers and paid employees who visit nursing homes, rest homes and other sub-acute licensed facilities to advocate for residents. Ombudsmen listen to resident complaints, negotiate solutions and evaluate facility conditions. Because they regularly visit every long term care facility in Boston, ombudsmen have unique insight into the strengths and weaknesses of each facility.

Home Delivered Meals and Nutrition Services
Proper nutrition is key to healthy aging. That is why Ethos provides home-delivered meals to frail, homebound elders in southwest Boston, Allston and Brighton. Different meal types include Kosher, Caribbean, Latino, Russian, southern-style and traditional American. Elders may also receive frozen weekend meals, cold meals or a combination based on their needs. Nutritional supplements may also be provided for special needs.

Ethos has twelve community lunch programs. Located throughout southwest Boston, Allston, Brighton and Back Bay, these lunch program are open to any elder over 60 years of age. Call Ethos for the location of lunch programs and to make a reservation.

Nutrition assessment services are also available to elders in southwest Boston. These include an evaluation of nutritional status, suggestions for improving food intake and ways to better follow diet prescriptions. Registered dietitians provide community nutrition education in senior centers and elderly housing complexes.

Protective Services
The Boston Protective Services program at Ethos is a service for people 60 and over who are at risk from a caregiver. Risk includes physical, sexual or emotional abuse, neglect or financial exploitation.

Signs of abuse, neglect or financial exploitation include: Dehydration, malnutrition, isolation and untreated bedsores. Bruises, welts, lacerations, bone fractures, dislocations, or reports of hitting, slapping, sudden changes in behavior or refusal by another to allow visits with the elder. Bruises in the genital areas, sexually transmitted diseases, unexplained vaginal or anal bleeding, or reports of sexual assault. Verbal or nonverbal acts such as insults, threats, intimidation, humiliation or the "silent treatment". The loss of money, property, or unexplained sudden changes in wills, financial documents, or access to sources of income.

Boston Money Management Program
The inability to pay bills can be one of the most frustrating - and frightening - aspects of getting frail. That's why Ethos and its two sister agencies - Boston Senior Home Care and Central Boston Elder Services -- created the Boston Money Management program.

Boston Money Management is a program that helps frail, low-income elders balance their checkbooks, pay their bills and complete other financial transactions. Specially trained and supervised volunteers work directly with elders or, in cases where greater control is required, as 'representative payees.' In either case, money managers allow elders to remain at home even though increasing frailty may mean they can no longer keep up with their personal finances.

In the summer of 1972, Governor Frank Sargent issued a call for a new state initiative to help elders 'age in place.' Called "Home Care," this was one of the nation's first efforts to create case-managed elder services as alternatives to costly, dehumanizing and overly medicalized nursing homes.

That September, a group of southwest Boston activists formed an ad-hoc coalition to advocate for the area's 32,000 elders. Six months later, Southwest Boston Senior Services, Inc. was formed -- a non-profit "Home Care Corporation" whose purpose was to promote the independence, dignity and well-being of area elders.

In May, 1973, the new Corporation elected Sam Messina, a well-known senior activist, as its first President.

In 1974, the agency began with a staff of four and funding for seven elderly meal sites. One year later, it received its first state Home Care contract and started a transportation project with the purchase of three vans. Thirty-five elders were served. In 1977, 400 elders received Home Care services, another 65 Meals On Wheels and a new Volunteer Services Program was started. In 1983, the agency expanded its portfolio to include elder protective, congregate housing and nursing home ombudsman services; in 1996 it significantly enhanced services for very frail elders; and in 1996 it initiated a crisis intervention program for self-neglecting elders. By 1998, with a $6 million budget serving elders throughout the city, the agency had outgrown even its name. Ethos was born.

Today, Ethos offers the broadest array of home and community based services of any eldercare agency in Boston. Its Protective Services and Long Term Care Ombudsman programs have grown substantially and now assist elders anywhere in Boston. And through a partnership with two other Boston-based home care agencies, Ethos sponsors citywide programs that serve both the frail and disabled: Boston Money Management, a volunteer bill-paying service; BostonElderINFO, a free information and referral service, and the Caregiver Alliance, a support program for family caregivers.

Thirty years ago, a handful of activists joined a visionary Governor to put the "human" back into human services. Today, Ethos stands as a monument to their success. Guided by principles of care, compassion and community, Ethos is one of Boston's most vital and vibrant non-profits, a linchpin in a community-based system supporting the independence, dignity and safety of the elderly and disabled.

Designations by Mass. Executive Office of Elder Affairs:

    * Aging Service Access Point for southwest Boston area
    * Elder Protective Services Agency for City of Boston
    * Long Term Care Ombudsman Agency for City of Boston
    * Elder Nutrition Project for southwest Boston, Allston & Brighton

Contact person: Meg Licht, Program Manager, (phone), (email)

Office fax number: (617) 524-2899

 555 Amory Street
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
(See a map)

Web Site:


 From 93 North & South Take Exit 18 (Mass. Ave./Roxbury). Take a right at the first set of lights (you will drive past Boston City Hospital/Boston Medical Center on your right). Continue on Melnea Cass Blvd. and take a left on. . . (more)
  Nearest Metro/Subway Stop: Orange Line - Green Street Stop,
  Walk distance (in minutes): 5
  Nearest Bus Stop: #42 - Washington & Green Street Stop, 7 minute walk

Miscellaneous Information
What is the type of this organization?
501(c)(3) Nonprofit Organization
Does the agency conduct CORI checks?
Last updated on March 27, 2015

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