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Chat about the state of senior home care with Sandra Kelly-Allen

April 9, 2007

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.

On Sunday, in the Journal-World and on 6News, reporter Christine Metz takes a look at the state of senior home care - a topic that takes on new urgency as the Baby Boom generation nears its twilight years. Monday, Metz will conduct an online chat with Sandra Kelly-Allen, Project LIVELY Coordinator for Lawrence-Douglas Coutny Health Department. The project helps connect seniors to home care services and evaluates the home to make sure it is safe.

Moderator:

Hi, we have Sandra Allen-Kelly who runs Project LIVELY at the Lawrence Douglas County Health Department. The program helps connect seniors with services that allow them to stay in their homes longer. She is going to answer questions about what services are out there in Douglas County.

Thanks for being here today Sandra.

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

It is a pleasure to meet with you today. I am always happy to speak about community resources for seniors. We are fortunate to live in a community with such great services and dedicated service providers.

Moderator:

Since we have no quesitons yet, I'll post some of my own. Sandra where are some of the places seniors can go if they need help staying at home longer?

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

Of course, anyone interested in finding out about supportive services in Douglas County can contact me at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department 843-3060. It is our responsibility to be fully aware of all the resoures and programs for seniors 60 and over, residing in Douglas County. A licensed Master's level social worker will help you understand the services and access those services at no charge.

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

Some other places to obtain information about Project LIVELY and community resources for seniors include: Douglas County Senior Services, Lawrence Public Library, your physicians and Lawrence Memorial Hospital.

PattieJ:

I'm not sure my first attempt went through so I'll ask again. How does a person know that home health services are needed and how is the determination made for the services?

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

There is a difference between Home Health services and in-home services. Home Health services are provided by a licensed Home Health Agency and the services provided are nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Those services require a physician's order.

In-home services are typically: housekeeping, meal preparation, laudry service and/or transportation services. Those services are indicated when it is no longer safe to engage in those activities,they become too difficult to manage or a person is no longer able to complete those activities.

dadfrat:

Who are some of the companies that provide care in the home, and what services do they offer?

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

There are number of agencies providing in-home services in our community and an excellant source of information is the Explore Your Options Guide printed by the Kansas Department on Aging. These guides are available, at no charge at the Health Department, the Senior Center, Lawrence Public Library and Lawrence Memorial Hospital, to name just a few places.

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

As identified earlier, seniors and their families are able to obtain such paid services as: housekeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, meal preparation, transportation and home delivered meals.

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

Some volunteer services provided by the Douglas County Senior Services that are essential to seniors in our community include: friendly visitors for those seniors who are isolated in their homes, grocery shoppers, tax assistance and assistance with medical insurance concerns. Kansas Legal Services has a wonderful program called Jayhawk Support Services for Seniors that provides volunteers to assist with managing fiances.

PattieJ:

Typically, cost becomes a factor. Are in-home services covered by Medicare? Are there other sources of funding?

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

Medicare covers some of the cost of the home health services I discussed earlier: nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy and also a bath aide. Again, those services must be ordered by a physician and the client must continue to meet medicare eligibility guidelines. Medicare does not cover any cost associated with custodial care. Those costs are considered on-going supportive long term care services and are the responsibility of the client.

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

There are two programs that help pay for custodial services for seniors in Kansas. Senior Care Act which helps pay for services that is based on a sliding scale. The other program is the Home and Community Based Services for the Frail Elderly program which pays for services. These programs are administered by Jayhawk Area Agency on Aging and a person must be financially and functionally eligible to qualify.

Moderator:

So, Sandra we have one last question from Pattie J and then I think it is time for us to sign off. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions?

PattieJ:

What is the biggest deterrent to getting in-home services and why?

Sandra Kelly-Allen:

Thank-you for the question. In my experience working with seniors for the past 6 years, the challeng in accepting services is recognizing that one needs help. Often times, friends and family members are the first to recognize when help is needed. Most of us are so focused on "making it work" that sometimes we don't see that with a little help we can maximize safety and maintain independent living. Some seniors are initially reluctant to accept help because they are fearful that it's a "sign" that they should be placed in a nursing home. Once Project LIVELY Care Managers meet with clients and their families and explain that accepting services is actually what will keep them independent and reduce the concern of their loved ones, they usually accept the needed help. Thank-you for the opportunity today to speak with you about my passion--helping seniors live the best quality of life possible, in their own homes!!

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