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Westmoreland County Area Agency on Aging Director to RetireHas been with the agency since 1977
(Greensburg, PA)—Ray DuCoeur, Director of Westmoreland County’s Area Agency on Aging, will retire July 7th after 37 years of service. Originally hired as a case manager serving adults with mental health challenges, Ray worked for over four years placing clients in family-type setting adult foster homes, or Dom Care, for those who need assistance with activities of daily living and are unable to live independently. Later promoted to the position of Administrative Officer, he eventually became only the second AAA Director in the County’s history, shepherding the organization through a myriad of new and expanded programs.
When asked his proudest professional achievement, Mr. DuCoeur stated that working with AAA staff to earn a reputation of excellence among older adults and the community, and throughout Pennsylvania and beyond, ranks highly. As an example, he pointed to Westmoreland AAA’s voluntary piloting of the Care Transitions model in Pennsylvania, resulting in recognition in 2011 from the National Association of AAA’s for reducing unnecessary re-admissions to hospitals partly as a result of Westmoreland’s success, Care Transitions has been expanded and is now being tried nationwide. Neither Ray nor his staff trumpet accomplishments like this. Instead, as he said, “We quietly get the job done. If things are going well, you don’t hear much about AAA—and it’s been generally quiet.”
Asked about challenges in leading an agency as diverse and program-rich as AAA, Mr. DuCoeur mentioned that due to expansion of programs over the years and the need to stay abreast of state requirements, staying ahead of changes is always a concern. However, due to a robust staff development tradition at AAA, the staff consistently surmounts this challenge.
With almost 40 years of service to the senior citizen community, it was difficult for Ray to single out one client or experience as most memorable. When pressed, he spoke of a gentleman who had been institutionalized for over 20 years—functioning on a basic level of self-care, yet completely uncommunicative. Tasked with selecting a Dom Care home for this client, Ray chose a provider he described as “a go-getter.” “She took him everywhere—to the library, events, and church. Eventually, she discovered that his means of communication was Russian and he spoke no English!” With the intervention of Ray and the Dom Care provider, this gentleman was finally in a setting where he could flourish, learning English and making “miraculous improvement.”
So what’s next for Ray DuCoeur? As he remarked, “I love my work, but at some point it’s time to move on to something new.” He looks forward to spending time with his wife and four children, two of whom are adults, and two school-aged daughters. He enjoys drawing and working in pastels and hopes to finally have the time to devote to this interest. The son of a Presbyterian minister who moved frequently and resided in four different states as a child, Ray will continue to make his home here. Ray states: “Westmoreland County is a wonderful place to live and work. I’ll miss all of those with whom I’ve worked—especially my staff and those in other County departments, our Commissioners, and legislators. Together we’ve worked to help older persons live better lives and I believe we do our job well. I have had a sense of accomplishment knowing that and have most often been able to sleep well at night.”