COA: Home aides in short supply

By Gary Huffenberger -



WILMINGTON — There is a home care worker shortage in southwest Ohio including Clinton County, according to the Council on Aging (COA) of Southwestern Ohio.

The COA of Southwestern Ohio is contracted by Clinton County to administer the Elderly Services Program to county seniors.

The difficulty in recruiting home care aides is largely due to an improved job market, said Ken Wilson, vice president of program operations for the COA of Southwestern Ohio.

Wilson and Suzanne Burke, who is president of the COA of Southwestern Ohio, visited Clinton County commissioners on Monday and gave an update on the Elderly Services Program.

Home care aides, due to lower unemployment overall, have the option of working in other industries, Wilson said, noting it’s been a while since there was a shortage of available home care aides.

The two senior managers reported to the commissioners that a new home-delivered meal contract, yet to be awarded, will go into effect Jan. 1, 2016.

They listed three changes that would be implemented under the new home-delivered meal contract. First, the provider must deliver hot meals, or have the driver heat the meal for seniors who cannot operate a microwave.

Second, therapeutic meals must be provided for seniors with certain medical conditions who need diabetic or renal diets, for two examples. Meals with a “modified consistency” must be provided for seniors who have difficulty chewing or swallowing.

And third, there will be separate rates for daily and weekly meal delivery schedules.

“These were all for the betterment of the seniors receiving the services,” said Wilson.

In response to a question from Clinton County Commissioner Mike Curry, the weekly schedule would involve the delivery of seven frozen meals once a week for seniors suited to that format, according to Wilson.

In addition to seeking proposals from established businesses interested in providing home-delivered meals, COA seeks proposals from businesses interested in providing Title III services such as transportation, congregate meals and wellness activities. These services are paid for with federal and state funds, and do not use local elderly services levy resources, stated a COA handout.

The COA of Southwestern Ohio held a provider recruitment fair in Wilmington in June to add minor home modification providers to its contracted network, according to the COA managers.

These home modifications mostly involve the installation of grab bars in restrooms and wheelchair ramps to the house.

At one point in the COA presentation, Clinton County Commissioner Kerry R. Steed said Clinton County commissioners and others who oversee the COA operations “love to see operating efficiencies, and decreases in budget and expenses.” However, he added that patient care must be “maintained or not decreased to the level where we’re really not doing enough for seniors in the community.”

Burke responded, “We will.”

In 2014, Clinton County Community Action sued the COA of Southwestern Ohio, contesting the council’s cancellation of home-delivered meals to 34 Clinton Countians. Later, 37 other elder Clinton Countians were advised their Meals on Wheels service would be stopped.

The COA attributed its actions to the affected seniors not meeting eligibility rules for home-delivered meals. At the time, Clinton County Community Action was under contract with COA to do care management, which included determining eligibility.

The lawsuit was resolved earlier this year. According to federal court records, confidential terms were set and an order of dismissal was entered. Judge Timothy S. Black retained the right to enforce the terms.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768 or on Twitter @GHuffenberger.


By Gary Huffenberger