Benefits of Using At Home Services (Coach’s Corner Episode 11)

At Home services can be a great way for older adults to get the non-medical caregiving solutions they need from the comfort of their own home – whether that means daily support, housekeeping, or simply companionship. Listen to the podcast below for more details on the At Home services and benefits that Messiah Lifeways At Home offers, and read on for a transcription!

INTRO: You’re listening to the Coach’s Corner – your trusted source for advice and insight on aging well. Lifeways coach Matt Gallardo has been working in the long term care industry for nearly 20 years. During his career, he has helped thousands of individuals and their families on the journey of aging. His diverse experience, from hospital and rehab settings to senior housing, allows him to share a balanced perspective on aging, along with unique solutions for helping individuals proactively and purposely plan for the future.

And now here’s your host, Matt Gallardo.

COACH MATT GALLARDO: Hello, and thanks again for tuning into the Coach’s Corner on Apple iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play.

Each year, November is recognized as National Home Care and Hospice Month by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice. During this month it is important to take the time to celebrate and give recognition to all the professional caregivers who make a difference for the clients and the families they support. Although, what they do and the care they provide 24 hours a day, seven days a week really should be recognized and celebrated all year round.

Now if you recall several episodes back, we talked about how adult day services can lighten the load for caregivers facing burnout. We also discussed how it can lengthen the caregiver’s ability to keep their loved one at home for as long as possible. Now, in addition to adult day programs, non-medical home care serves as a great resource to provide additional help to caregivers, providing relief or respite for family caregivers and, again, extending one’s ability to age in place.

There are many home care agencies across the country helping millions of people in need. And locally, Messiah Lifeways At Home has been providing non-medical home care services, and has been a cornerstone of aging in place, here in Mechanicsburg and surrounding areas since 1984. Pretty amazing.

Here today to talk with me about Messiah Lifeways At Home is Christina Weber, Director of Home Care Services, and Lead Caregiver Heidi Curry. Welcome, ladies!

CHRISTINA WEBER: Thanks for having us, Matt.

COACH MATT: Thanks for being here. Well, we appreciate your time and your willingness to share more about Messiah Lifeways At Home and really how home care services can help a spouse, or an adult child, or a loved one taking care of an ailing parent or relative. Now Christina, can you give us an overview of what Messiah Lifeways At Home does?

CHRISTINA: Sure, I’d be happy to do that. Our at home caregivers actually provide a really wide range of customizable services. We do everything from housekeeping and errand running, to bathing and showering depending on the client’s need. Some clients hire us just for companionship. You know – keeping them company at meals, spending time in their home. And others actually need more involved hands-on care or something specialized, like some med management – the type, intensity, and frequency of service really runs the gamut. We are non-medical though, and our home care caregivers are home care assistants. They do not work as nurses or other medical professionals.

COACH MATT: I think most people would be surprised by the wide variety of services. You don’t necessarily have to be in great need of hands-on care with things like grocery shopping or transportation.

CHRISTINA: Right. Sometimes there’s a socialization need.

COACH MATT: Absolutely. Now, there are a number of different home care providers out there. Tell us a little bit about what makes Messiah Lifeways at home so special or unique.

CHRISTINA: Well, we believe that we have an exceptional group of caregivers on our team. They’re exceptionally compassionate people and are skilled at what they do. At Messiah Lifeways At Home, we place a very high value on providing ongoing training to our team members.

We also provide specialized training and feeding, and quite a few of our caregivers are actually certified feeders, which means they are certified to feed in nursing facilities here and in other facilities, actually. Our transportation services also make us somewhat unique. We have wheelchair vans and professional drivers available to clients as well.

We also offer Phillips Lifeline units, and that is a fall alert system. So those are some areas that make us a little more unique than some of our competitors.

COACH MATT: While I’ve have had the opportunity to interact with some of the caregivers and they’re definitely wonderful people. They have a level of compassion and dedication that must be commended.

Now I mentioned in the opening that Messiah Lifeways At Home started in 1984, which, again, surprises a lot of people. But another misconception is that the services that you provide are only for Messiah Village residents, which we know is not accurate. In fact, well over half of those receiving your services do not live on the campus of Messiah Village.

Heidi, can you tell us about the service area and the requirements for using At Home?

HEIDI CURRY: We do serve our community clients mainly in the Cumberland County area, but we also serve clients in parts of Perry, Dauphin, and Northern York.

Some of our clients live in their own homes, but we also serve clients that are in other facilities as well. Our clients are aged 55 and over. We do have a two-hour minimum for service for those living off of the Messiah Village campus. But we try to be flexible and we try to accommodate their needs as much as possible, related to scheduling. A client can use our services for as little as two hours a month, or up to 24/7 if need be. And it’s really up to the individual. We will build a schedule around their budget and their needs.

COACH MATT: That’s great, and I think it’s interesting to know that aging in place doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a private home. They could be in another facility or an independent living community where they need that additional help. It’s also great to know how flexible the scheduling can be.

Heidi, can you tell us about your role and the process to begin using Messiah Lifeways At Home?

HEIDI: So, typically we will get a call from a potential client or a client’s family members, or a concerned person who may need our services. And we take that initial inquiry information and then either myself or someone from the At Home office will call either that person or the person’s family member, and we will set up an appointment to go and meet with the client.

We prefer to meet with the client in the location where we’re actually going to be taking care of them. So that may be in the client’s personal home or it may be in another facility. We will go and meet with them.

We will get an explanation of what services the client is looking for and what their needs might be. And then I usually try and take some time to explain to them how our services could fit those needs that they’re explaining, and then we have them sign a contract with us and then we determine a schedule needs, and we go from there based on what we can do for their care.

We strongly advocate for our clients being able to stay in their own environments and their homes, enabling them to be as independent as possible. And we also do our best to match up the client with our caregivers so that it’s a good fit for both the client and the caregiver.

COACH MATT: Another thing I wanted to touch on in this question that we get sometimes, is that most clients are paying privately for these services because unfortunately, health insurance such as Medicare does not normally cover the cost of non-medical services like this.

Some people are fortunate and may have purchased long-term care insurance that may cover these services. But for some individuals with limited income, there are some financial assistance programs out there to help cover the costs. At least partially. In particular, there is a foundation, the Cheryl Kay Foundation, that helps certain people get some financial assistance. Can you tell us a little bit about Cheryl Kay and more detail about that?

CHRISTINA: Sure. The Cheryl Kay Foundation is a wonderful organization that cares for both breast cancer survivors as well as older adults. Those are the two areas of focus for them. They offer a grant of one thousand dollars for home care services to older adults who meet the following requirements:

They need to live alone or with a spouse. They need to be 79 years of age or older and have an income between about twenty-two hundred dollars and four thousand dollars a month. Or, they need to be survivors of breast cancer. We have really enjoyed partnering with the Cheryl Kay Foundation on several cases.

So certainly, if anyone listening needs some financial assistance and has any questions about participating with Cheryl Kay, or any sort of rate information, you can feel free to contact the Home Care office at 717-790-8209 and any of the staff that answer that phone can help you with questions.

COACH MATT: We’re one of the few home care providers in the area, I understand, that participates with Cheryl Kay. Is that correct?

CHRISTINA:  Yes, that is correct – not everyone is able to participate with them. They sort of hand-select. So we feel very privileged to work with them.

COACH MATT: Well lastly, I know you’re always looking to add more dedicated caregivers to the team. Can you tell us the type of person you’re looking for, or why they’d want to join the Messiah Lifeways At Home team, and how to apply for a position as well?

CHRISTINA:  Sure! We are always looking for people who have an innate sense of compassion and empathy. We particularly enjoy team members who are looking for ways to grow and learn. Our ideal team members have excellent problem-solving skills, good communication skills, and a bit of a tough skin because sometimes, you know, our clients and the population that we work with can be challenging.

HEIDI: We are also looking for people with a caring heart. We feel like we can teach skills to people but we can’t teach sensitivity. So we’re looking for people who have that sensitivity that we can teach the home care and personal care skills to.

COACH MATT: You do provide training. There’s also a nurse educator – want to share a bit about that?

HEIDI: Absolutely. Nancy, our nurse educator, is the newest member of our team. And her focus is really on developing the skills of our caregivers. So that’s her focus – offering special classes for them that would be tailored to their schedules. We really try to work around people’s lives and life commitments. Nancy’s helping us provide that training in a flexible way.

COACH MATT: Is there a minimum that staff can work or certain requirements from that perspective?

CHRISTINA: Most of our staff are PRN which means they’re scheduled or as needed. They would turn into an availability calendar at the beginning of each month. And our minimum requirement is eight hours of weekend time and then four hours every other holiday. So, it’s possible that someone could be a team member and just meet those minimum time requirements.

But we really don’t have anyone who does that, because I think people really enjoy the work that they do when they’re working with home care. It’s meaningful work and people typically enjoy what they do and are willing to give more than that.

HEIDI: It’s also a job that allows people to work in other areas of employment or be stay at home moms, who are looking for extra employment. It fits in well and is pretty flexible to adjust for people who have other employment. So it’s a job that gives them some additional employment if they’re looking for that, and we’re able to give them the flexibility to schedule around their other jobs or other responsibilities.

COACH MATT: And that would include college students as well?

CHRISTINA: That’s correct! We love our college students. And we welcome them back on breaks during the summer with open arms, and are very happy to see them.

COACH MATT: That is a great opportunity for them and certainly builds character. That’s a great way for them to learn about life as well. I know some of the interaction that younger caregivers have with older clients. It’s really unique to see that relationship and that bond that they create.

Well, thank you again to both of you for joining me here on the Coach’s Corner! Again, if listeners want more information or to set up home care services, the number they should call is 717-790-8209.

CHRISTINA: Matt, thanks so much for your interest in home care and having us today.

HEIDI: Matt, we’re glad that we could be here today and share a little bit of our passion for caring for people, and allowing them to age in place by providing home care services to those clients.

COACH MATT:  Wonderful. We certainly want to help spread the word and appreciate the great information! Home care providers like Messiah Lifeways At Home are becoming more and more vital as our population grows older and prefer longer-term care in the privacy of their own home. So I hope today sheds some light on these wonderful programs, and we thank you again for listening.

If you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, head on over to iTunes and hit the subscribe button for the Coach’s Corner podcast and never miss an episode. Or, if you have an idea or a topic you’d like me to cover, please email me at Coach@MessiahLifeways.org. Thanks for listening, and until next time, age well!