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Crisis in the Provision of Home Health Aide Services to Home-Bound Elders

Op/Ed By Wallace Mabry


Wallace Mabry

Wallace Mabry

An Urban League case manager for the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP) reports a waiting list, which may result in one year, or more, delay in getting home health aide services to elders who are home-bound, and in need of care, requiring help in moving in and out of bed, baths, dressing and grooming.

Those particular services, however, can be provided privately, by the same agencies with whom the League contracts. That is, if the home-bound elder is willing to pay an out-of-pocket fee of $20, $25, or $30 per hour more than the current funding provides.

How wide-spread this problem is cannot be immediately determined, but the impact on the black elderly in the Rochester community is huge. The issue may result in one or more of the black elderly, who are in need of such services, having to fend for herself or himself.

Home health aide training, for the most part, consists of preparing workers for household, and light cleaning chores related to the individual with whom the aide has been assigned to work in a given home.  The chores include cooking, and helping the elder with day to day care and hygiene.

The notion that providing the home-bound elder with day to day and hygiene care has evolved to the degree that, there is now an additional cost of service attached and derived, essentially because the elderly person requires that ‘day to day care and hygiene’ service, which appears to be predicated upon the economic theory of, and motivation for, profit.

Needless to say, the black elderly most affected by this lack of in-home care live on fixed incomes, and can ill afford the $40, $50, or $60 per day cost required to be accommodated by a home health aide.

The lead agency in this collaborative is the Catholic Family Center, with various other agencies, like the League, providing case management services.

Catholic Family Center is also the lead agency in a number of other social programs. Aside from providing foster homes for children diagnosed with mental health concerns, the center has residential campuses, programs for refugees, refugee minors in placement, and other socially-driven endeavors.

The concern herein is that Catholic Family Center may be overwhelmed with the responsibility of providing supervisory attendance, and monitoring the agencies within its collaborative, and whether due care and diligence to the mandate of providing adequate care to the elderly are being implemented in a fair, and timely, manner.

The concern, also, is whether the home health aide agencies with whom case management contracts, are changing the objectives and goals of their care packages solely as a means of increasing incomes, or because they do not want to provide those services to certain, select communities.

There is a nascent movement within Monroe County to address the sundry issues of elderly abuse, and to make the public aware of the needs of our elderly. This movement should include the aforementioned concerns, as only abuse can result when the home-bound elderly, requiring day to day care, baths, dressing, and grooming cannot obtain those services under what was a normal part of what home health aide services provided.