Some members of our Elder Law family recently participated in the health fair at the Neal Senior Center in Shelby. This is the second year in a row that our Elder Law office has participated in the event and we even set up a booth in order to talk to seniors about health care options. The seniors that go get to connect with other professional service providers right on the spot, which is great for them.
Communication with seniors is key to ensuring that they are fully knowledgeable about the healthcare options available to them. One woman that I had the pleasure of interviewing who subscribes to that school of thought is Jane Wright of Care Solutions. Care Solutions in Shelby is located across from the formerly-known Cleveland Regional Medical Center, now known as Carolina’s Healthcare System Cleveland. We spoke a bit about ACCESS Healthcare, of which Jane is the President. This is a group that meets and is made up of affiliates. Jane touched on the important issues facing seniors, and what ACCESS does to benefit seniors.
ACCESS is one of the older groups in Cleveland County that has been meeting for 26 years. At its core, it is a large group of healthcare professionals that work to help seniors. They started off with some of the best people in Cleveland County and are running strong. It started around a cup of coffee, and Suzi Kennedy – who I had the pleasure of interviewing not long ago – was an instrumental part of the group’s kick-off. It’s a group that gets together once per month to share in round-table fashion how the respective agencies that comprise the group serve the elder population. They discuss things that occur in the community that need to be addressed, such as elder dental care and other matters.
Some of the matters that they discuss have been on-going. For instance, in 1992, the United Way of Cleveland County took a survey that was known as a needs assessment. That survey revealed three particular areas that needed to be addressed in the county. The first was aging well, the second was senior housing, and the third was care giving. We know that aging well and illness prevention has been addressed and is still being addressed by many different agencies. But the Senior Center is a wellness place where people can go to exercise, socialize, and to have a good, hot lunch. They also offer line dancing and senior games. The Senior Center is a highly organized place that should be more utilized in Cleveland County.
Another option for seniors is the YMCA, which promoted diabetes prevention. This county is highly advantaged due to the fact that there have been so many people for decades who have been willing to give their time to create locations where care givers can go, such as Care Solutions. In addition to the many facilities, seniors have infinite opportunities to drop off their old prescription medicine, such as at the Senior Center. Once they drop off the medication, it is taken care of swiftly and efficiently so that the medication does not find its way into water supplies or anywhere else where it might harm others.
Advantages of ACCESS
We are learning from each other and we all sometimes have the same clients, and we know who to refer to for a certain thing. Everybody is so different, each individual story is different. So when they call us, I have to listen and think like a database. I have to process, “What do I tell this individual?”
Instead of having everyone out there doing their own thing, ACCESS provides the members the ability to meet up every four weeks and to discuss what they have been doing and what methods have worked when it comes to senior healthcare. The goal is the same between ACCESS members, and effectively delivers accountability.
Personally, I am in the central part of Cleveland County, so the professionals that I refer the seniors to are going to be a bit different due to my location. I therefore want to know who the professionals are and I want to know the quality of work they do. I will hear back, so the beauty of it is that I get to establish relationships with the people at these facilities, such as Bayada. It is just invaluable that we meet and get to know who is taking care of the seniors.
Funding for Care Solutions
We are funded mainly by the hospital. They are our lifeline. They give us our building, our space, our training, all our technology such as computers. They also pay our employees and give us wonderful benefits. They are there for us, plain and simple.
Our manager is Anzie Horn, who is wonderfully connected to the community. We are also funded by Isothermal Planning and Development, which means it’s state dollars that come down from Isothermal to us, so we get that. And then revenues that we take in from private care management, which is very little. We’re still working on our private market, but we are available to come out to those people that can afford to pay. We can meet people at any point. We provide care management to the general population, and we have about five different programs that we manage. The main one that brings in revenue is CAP/DA, and that’s the Community Alternative Program for Disabled Adults. That is a Medicaid program, and if there’s two in the home, the beauty is it just looks at one person’s income. They do have to be nursing home level and do have to have family support. So they can get some hours of help, which we call in-home aid hours. They also get supplies and the person that comes from the agency of their choice can help them do the things that they need to have done in order to be able to live in the home. That’s a Medicaid state program that we manage.
We also manage a respite program, which is very close to my heart because I get to manage that one. We recognize that family caregivers who are caring for members in their house 24 hours a day, 7 days a week need a break. There’s a statistic floating out there that around 40% of caregivers pre-decease the person they’re caring for. It’s very important, but it’s an easy program to set up and get going. We served about 40 families last year and were able to give those family care givers the break they needed. We allocate out and give a voucher for these families to choose in-home aid from one of the 50 providers that we have to adult day health out at Life Enrichment.
The other program allows us to serve the people who fall through the cracks. There are many individuals who cannot get Medicaid, yet they may make $1 or $50, to $100 over the Medicaid guideline. They can also have care management under what’s called Community Care Management. If the individual is 60 or above, a nurse and a social worker can come out, evaluate his/her situation, and see what the individual needs to link him/her with the necessary services.
ACCESS is an impressive networking group that spreads and shares ideas among members that is prompted by a passion for senior and elder care. Individuals – even seniors – who are interested in being a part of this group can call Care Solutions, which is the portal of entry for care giving and elder care. This was formed by ACCESS and the project took 10 years. The number is 980-487-4777. Callers will speak to a live person, not an answering machine.
It only costs $10 a year to participate, which is an excellent fee for the benefits that are awarded in being a part of this fantastic group. Many people don’t know about these programs, and they are overwhelmed by how to care for their senior loved ones. They’re overworked and stressed, and sometimes the world of medical benefits can be a complicated systems to navigate. Fortunately, there are people like Jane and the members of ACCESS who are trying to make elder care that much easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Call me if you have any questions:
Elder Law Attorney
McIntyre Elder Law
123 W. Marion Street, Shelby