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Supported Independence for People with Disabilities and Conditions of Aging

Updated: Dec 22, 2021

As I mentioned in my last blog post, Walking Spirit has begun working with a new client, Advocates Home Health Care. Part of the joy of providing Outreach Consulting and Support services is the thrill that comes from working with organizations whose mission aligns with Walking Spirit's! Advocates mission is to improve the quality of life of their clients by providing high-quality services, understanding, and respect for their wishes and personalities, helping them to remain in the comfort of their own home. Supporting the independence of people with disabilities, which includes conditions of aging, is an integral part of Walking Spirit's mission.


Advocates Home Health Care and Advocates Personal Care are providing a wide range of services under both Skilled Care and Personal Care. They are a small multi-cultural team including nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, aides, and caregivers. While Skilled Care focuses on in home services provided by licensed medical professionals with an intent to treat or manage an illness, injury, or medical condition, Personal Care is supportive care that does not involve medical skill and is therefore provided by "non-skilled" Caregivers. Caregivers from Advocates Personal Care provide valuable services including social interaction, help with household chores, and assistance with "activities of daily living". Advocates Home Health Care works with most insurance providers, private pay consumers, and Medicare & Medicaid. Advocates Personal Care is able to employ family, friends, and community members as Caregivers and is actively hiring.


Some examples of the types of services provided by Caregivers are meal planning & preparation, laundry & light housekeeping, limited shopping & errands, transportation, mobility assistance, help with dressing & hygiene, medication & appointment reminders, etc. When I read that list, I immediately think of my grandpa and all the years that my mom spent providing that level of care for him. First in his own home, as his conditions of aging began to limit his independence, and even after he moved into an assisted living facility; mom provided a lot of the personal support that went above and beyond what his assisted living facility would do.


In order to provide this level of support, mom had to adjust her work schedule, including reducing her paid work hours as needed. She did this out of love because it was the right thing to do to support her dad. How many families are in this kind of situation? How many people wind up in nursing homes because their family can't take the time off work to provide the support they need to remain as independent as possible?


I also think about my dad who spent time providing companionship, safety, and support to a friend with ALS. As ALS gradually took David's physical independence from him, my dad and several other members of their community volunteered their time to be present for him during the hours that his wife was at work. This gave David the safety and security of having someone present should he need something that he couldn't address on his own and empowered him to remain in his own home while his wife was working. It also provided him with one of the most vital aspects of the human condition, social interaction and companionship, while also providing respite for his wife.


My family was lucky, my sister and I were adults before my grandpa's conditions of aging reached a point where he needed our mom to drive him to medical appointments and support his independence with household chores, organization, and other activities of daily living that were difficult, or even potentially dangerous for him. My mom was in a position to manage her work schedule and take time off as needed and the loss of income was something that my parents could sacrifice without impacting their cost of living. Other families are not necessarily in a position to make that adjustment as easily, and many give up without even exploring their options.


David and his wife had a community of people who loved him and were happy to support them in any way possible to empower David's ability to independently enjoy his quality of life even as ALS gradually and aggressively restricted his control over his own body. It didn't hurt that he was a pleasure to be around, with a sharp sense of humor and generosity with his scotch! Other people who experience debilitating disabilities are not as lucky to have the communal support system that David had. Many of these people wind up in short staffed and over-crowded nursing homes or trapped in their own home with minimal social support. The lack of social support can frequently be more disabling than the disability itself.

Advocates Home Health Care has specifically retained Walking Spirit's Outreach and Support services to find people who are already eligible for services under the Medicaid Waiver, or who might be but have not explored their options. (Many people are not aware of the services provided under the Medicaid Waiver, and there are many misconceptions about Medicaid, the Medicaid Waiver, and what is required for eligibility). As an approved Medicaid Waiver services provider, Advocates Personal Care is able to employ family members and members of the community as "non-skilled" Caregivers. This provides an opportunity for people to get paid for work that they may already be doing for their loved ones, while also providing some relief to those who suffer or fear a financial loss for doing the right thing.


By becoming a Caregiver with Advocates Personal Care, people who are providing personal care to family and community members can get paid $12 an hour for work they are already doing. Under this program, consumers can have multiple paid Caregivers for up to 40 hours of care per week. The benefit to the consumer is that Advocates Home Health Care provides oversight to ensure that they are receiving the services and care that they need. Advocates Home Health Care is also a valuable resource in the event that a consumer needs Skilled Care to maintain their independence in the home.


Advocates can help connect families who qualify for Medicaid with the resources to apply for the Medicaid Waiver. If you're unsure if you qualify for Medicaid or the Medicaid Waiver, Advocates can help you answer those questions. In addition, if someone is hired by Advocates Personal Care as a Caregiver and would like to learn the skills required to work for Advocates Skilled Care as a licensed Home Health Aide or a Home Care Assistant, which earns higher pay, Advocates can provide that training.


Advocates Home Health Care was founded by Inna Pecar and Steve Pecar after they experienced great difficulty finding appropriate care for Inna's father, who experienced dementia in addition to other health conditions. Their story is both beautiful and inspiring and it is an honor to be working with them! If you or a loved one needs help maintaining health and independence in the home, Advocates Home Health Care is the company to choose, as they grew out of that very need. The founders know what it's like to face that struggle and what questions need to be asked to secure appropriate care while preserving the dignity and independence of the consumer. Please watch the short video below to hear Inna tell Advocates Home Health Care's story in her own words.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section; I will try to respond to comments within 48 hours. If you would like to learn more about the supported independence, home health care, and employment opportunities provided by Advocates Home Health Care, please email me at jeremy@walkingspirit.org or you can call Advocates directly at (317)580-0700.

#independentliving #homehealthcare #disabilities #seniors #advocateshomehealthcare

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