WILMINGTON — A shortage of home care providers here and statewide has gotten worse, Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio officials said Monday.
As a result, COA requested and received the green light from Clinton County commissioners to purse three additional options. Under contract with the county commissioners, Council on Aging administers the Elderly Services Program in Clinton and four other southwest Ohio counties: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties.
Home care providers assist with bathing and grooming of older adults who reside at home.
In the first option, COA plans to contract with the First Community Health organization which has an office in Wilmington. This would be a second home care agency that COA contracts with in Clinton County, the current one being Blackstone, said COA President Suzanne A. Burke.
She told commissioners that home care service for the senior clients in the program is “sporadic” and sometimes the home care provider doesn’t show up at the older adult’s home. Nonetheless, she said Blackstone is doing the best it can given the shortage in direct care workers that has occurred largely due to many of them leaving for higher-paying jobs or jobs with benefits when the economy picked up.
Because COA already contracts with First Community Health in a different program, it’s familiar with First Community Health.
The second option COA will pursue for Clinton County seniors will be to offer a consumer-directed care (CDC) program, a different way to deliver home care. Instead of using traditional agencies, the seniors become the “employers” and can choose who they want as their worker — often a family member or a neighbor — to provide the care they need, said Kim Clark, COA’s Elderly Services Program manager.
Though the seniors themselves do not pay the workers, they monitor time sheets and employee performance.
These paid employees must be 18 or older, not already providing the services the client needs, and willing to undergo a criminal background check.
The older adult will get COA care management services to make sure the employee is doing the work, Clark said.
The Council on Aging already oversees CDC programs in Hamilton and Butler Counties, where the satisfaction level is pretty high, added Clark.
Burke said sometimes seniors feel like they are less of a burden when they pay a person to do the work, rather than asking him or her to perform the services for free.
The third option is to use independent providers who are not affiliated with an agency. There are about 20 independent providers in the Clinton County area, according to Burke.
Independent providers often serve people with disabilities younger than 60. But they perform the same services that a home care provider for seniors is expected to provide, said Burke.
COA would check on these independent providers as it does any other home care provider.
The three options are expected to be implemented in the coming weeks, Burke said.
If someone is interested in doing the work of a home care provider, please contact Clark at 513-345-8651 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Burke said several senior citizen and assisted living organizations in Ohio are advocating with state lawmakers to try to raise awareness of the shortages and turnover rates among in-home care workers as well as nursing facility workers.
Clinton County Commissioner Brenda K. Woods had spoken with Burke a couple weeks ago concerning a Sabina-area senior citizen not receiving expected home care services.
In other county business Monday:
• Commissioners voted in favor of proposing a renewal tax levy for the Clinton County Combined Health District. The five-year levy is expected to be on the May ballot.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.