Program offering home-based care for elderly looks to serve county

A state program giving Hoosiers an option to care for their disabled or elderly loved ones at home instead of putting them in a nursing home hasn’t found any takers in Jackson County.

Caregiver Homes of Indiana, however, wants to see

that change.

The two-year-old community-based program provides professional support to caregivers through the help of social workers, financial assistance and training from a registered nurse.

Genna Lynn, the program’s manager in Bloomington, said approval for the program to begin in Indiana was granted by the Division of Aging on July 1, 2013. Jackson County is served through the Bloomington office.

It was available to Jackson County residents in last

February. So far, no families have signed up.

“It’s new, and it’s about getting the word out,” said Lynn, a former Jennings County resident.

Lynn said the program is the only one of its kind in the state, and it allows assistance for individuals to care for another who is elderly, terminally ill or disabled and 18 years or older. That person must need help with at least three areas of living, such as hygiene, preparing meals, medication or finances.

“It’s a choice (for the caregiver) of being out there all on your own, doing it by yourself with no income versus getting the support from two of our professional staff who know this field very well and then getting that financial assistance and ongoing training,” Lynn said.

Besides the assistance of the program, Lynn said it will save a caregiver more than $5,000 a month because that’s the typical cost of a nursing home facility.

The financial assistance through the program ranges between $870 to $1,200 per 30 days — depending on the level of care a person requires, Lynn said.

“All of this is tax-free, so they get the whole amount. It is paid under the IRS code, which covers adult foster care,” she said.

Lynn said to get started, the potential caregiver must first contact his or her county’s Area Agency on Aging, which is Thrive Alliance for Jackson County, to see if they qualify.

The person being cared for must already be signed up through Medicaid or be eligible for it, she said.

Area Agency on Aging will then send a case manger to the caregiver’s home and do an assessment. If he or she qualifies, that person can choose the option of “Structured Family Caregiving” service, which is Caregiver Homes of Indiana.

The service will then step in and determine if the caregiver fits the program. That’s because a caregiver has to follow specific rules and regulations. There will be a background check, and most often, a caregiver will have to quit his or her full-time job because the care will be 24 hours a day while living with the person.

Due to a rule through Medicaid, spouses cannot be in the program, but other family members, friends and even neighbors are eligible for the service.

Individuals who are “extremely medically involved” and may need too much skilled care will not fit the criteria for the program, Lynn said.

Lynn said for the first 30 days, the caregiver and individual will receive weekly visits from a care manager, who has a social work background, and a registered nurse. For Jackson County residents, those professionals will be located out of Bedford.

The registered nurse will be available to help with medical questions and medications. He or she also will be able to have questions answered by a doctor and make referrals but will not be able to provide hands-on medical care.

The social worker will provide support specifically to the caregiver and will be available by phone 24/7.

“It’s to ensure that they aren’t getting burnt out and their needs are being met,” Lynn said. Those needs can be helping a caregiver receive resources needed, such as medical equipment.

The caregiver will receive CPR and first aid training and also extensive reading materials with a post-test.

Other areas of training required by the state are on universal precautions or how to avoid contact with a person’s bodily fluids using medical gloves, goggles and face shields. They also will learn about what to expect in taking care of another person and how to report incidents, among other things, Lynn said.

After 30 days, the caregiver will then receive a bi-weekly visit from the professionals.

Caregivers also will have to complete a daily health documentation online answering questions about the caregiver’s well-being and the health of the individual, allowing Caregiver Homes of Indiana to check in on the situation.

For information, Lynn suggested having questions answered at a call center located in Boston by calling 866-797-2333. One also can get started by calling Thrive Alliance’s office in Columbus at 866-644-6407.

Get help

Website: caregiverhomes.com

Questions about the program can be answered at the call center in Boston at 1-866-797-2333.

To get started, call Thrive Alliance’s office for Jackson County located in Columbus at 866-644-6407.

To contact Genna Lynn at Caregiver Homes of Indiana in Bloomington, call 812-774-9061.