IMPACT OF PROPOSED CHOICES FOR CARE CUTS ON RECIPIENTS
Source: Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging Case Managers
This letter is in regards to governor Shumlin’s proposed cuts to the Choices for Care program. I returned to Vermont from Massachusetts twelve years ago to begin the process of caring for my elderly mother. As an only child, the responsibility was mine and I promised my Mother that I would see that she remained in her home as long as her health allowed. Mom had a Home Health Care Policy that was used only when it became evident that I couldn’t leave her home alone while I was at work. That lasted two years and then the policy maxed out. The economy crashed and my full time job became a part time job of 20 hrs per week which is enough to pay for my health insurance. At 60 years old, I was faced with finding a way to keep my health insurance and still keep my Mom safely at home while I was away. The thought of placing Mom in a nursing home was agonizing.
A friend suggested I call the Council on Aging and I was told about the Choices for Care Program. It was perfect for our needs. Mom could stay home and be cared for. I could continue to work and keep my health insurance. A case manager was selected for Mom and she is in constant contact with us, assessing Mom’s changing needs and making suggestions that would help make Mom’s life better.
This is what Choices for Care is: keeping the elderly with their families and helping the families deal with the challenges of caring for an elderly relative in their home environment while maintaining their own lives and financial responsibilities.
In an article written in the Rutland Herald, Doug Racine was stated as saying “that there was no evidence the budget reductions, if they’re approved by the Legislature, will cause people to leave their homes for expensive long-term care facilities.” I would like to know his source “of evidence.” It obviously wasn’t someone who knows anything about the Choices Program. This program provides for one-on-one care: cooking meals, laundry, helping with bathroom tasks like toilet use, brushing teeth, washing, walking, driving elderly to doctors’ appointments, and shopping. It provides for maintaining physical strength like walking at the mall or in the yard, mental acuity like going through photo albums and talking about the past. It provides for engaging the elderly not just letting
them sit in a chair all day. This is the type of care I know is being provided to my Mom while I’m at work. If any cuts are made to the respite/companionship program, people like me, who need to work, will have no choice but to place their elderly in a nursing home.
Mr. Racine goes on to say of the services being eliminated, “These are not the basics of life.” What? To live in the home you grew up in, raised a family in, worked hard all your life to keep and maintain, to have grown old in is not a basic of life? It’s not only a basic of life, it’s an obligation to the people who made this state what it is that must be met by Governor Shumlin, Mr. Racine and the VT State Legislature. My Mom paid her dues tenfold over her 95 years and she and the other elderly enrolled in the Choices for Care Program deserve better than what your proposal will do to what’s left of their lives.
This letter is in regards to Governor Shumlin’s proposed cuts to the Choices for Care program. In the name of “growing jobs” in the state of Vermont, this cut would be a great hardship for me and my household. At part time hours of 20 hrs per week, any cut would make it impossible for me to make ends meet. It could mean the total elimination of my job, as the family of my charge would not be able to keep their mother home and keep their jobs. What sense does it make to remove someone from their home and put them in a nursing home when it would cost the state more money? What makes the Governor think neighbors, extended family members and friends have the time or financial resources to give support to someone else? They have responsibilities to their own families that would always come first.
This is an unbelievable proposal. Not only will I be out of employment but this family will be forced to put their mother in a nursing home because there will be no one at home to care for her while they are at work. What is going on in Vermont? You take people’s jobs away in the name of saving the state money and then turn around and spend twice that amount of the taxpayer’s money to put our elderly in nursing homes. As a care giver, I find this unconscionable. As a taxpayer, I find it bad management of state funds.
For starters, let’s be honest, there is a great reason for the widely known sayings, which were created many years ago and still ring true today:
“There’s NO Place like HOME!!!!”
“HOME is where the HEART is!!!!” and
“HOME Sweet HOME!!!!”
Where do you spend so much time of your life?? In the very beginning just picking out your home, then, improving your home, growing up your children in your home, celebrating the milestones & making memories in your home. What better place to be when you’re calling upon those warm memories, after your children have grown and you’re preparing to go to your ultimate home in heaven? The answer is “HOME”!!!!
My father has been a solid foundation of our family and has always remained not only close to home, but in his home. He wasn’t one who needed to travel to “experience” life. He and my mother “experienced” life at the “HOME” that they built with their love and commitment to one another. They were blessed to have 4 girls who have remained close to home, and even in the home. Since it was a duplex, we were able to live independently on the other side, while at the same time keeping an eye on our parent. (Or rather were they really keeping an eye on us??)
By remaining steadily in this one location, it built a commitment in all of us girls about what and where “HOME” really is. It’s a special place within the heart and all of the senses. When you close your eyes there’s only one place, and the images are so powerfully vivid, you can feel like you’re there and all the family is too. You can see all the rooms with the changes that have taken place over the years, and the memories that were made during each stage. You can remember the wonderful smells/aromas of a “HOME COOKED” meal that would make your tummy gurgle, just waiting for the moment when you finally sat down, as a Family, to eat and taste all those delicious meals made with Love by Mom or Dad. And of course all the conversations you would have around the table, sometimes as the speaker, other times as the listener, and all times as the learner/student. Our manners and courtesies were taught and learned here: Love, Compassion, Gentleness, Empathy, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Self-Control, Determination, Courage, Joy, Peace, Faithfulness. And of course there is nothing in the world that compares to the embracing Hugs that consoled and reassured us once again, or were simply to say “Hey I Love You????”
My dad spent a lot of time working to pay for and own his “HOME.” His plan and goal was to always be able to provide a “HOME” for his children. Having been in the Army during the Korean War, he witnessed the cruelness and disparity of being without a place where you are “Loved” and you “Belong.” He lived with those feelings close to his heart and took them very seriously. One reason he bought this house, the duplex, was so he was able to provide for others, “Just in case,” there would always be a place for one of his children or other family members to securely rest & call “HOME.”
His only wish is to remain in the comfort, familiarity and security of his “OWN HOME”!! We, his girls stand “UNITED” in our efforts to afford him this request!!
Because of the continued decline of time allotment for in home care services, my sister’s life has been in upheaval and completely reorganized. His main caretaker has had to reduce her schedule from full time to part-time at work. You may be sitting there thinking “Why would anyone want to do that when it’s hard enough to find a fulltime job to begin with??” The answer: she Loves her dad and wants to help him with his Last Wish!!
Having dad at home is BEST for HIM!! He has had a stroke & is hard of hearing & and hard to understand. We understand him!! When he shows signs of deterioration, we notice them before anyone else. Why?? Because we know & Love him!! We’re in tune with each other.
Shouldn’t this wonderful service my sister has valiantly vowed to complete, be made easier, NOT painfully more impossible??
The Last Wish of our father is to be IN his “HOME” with his family, NOT to complicate his daughter’s life. Should fulfillment of his Last Wish be contingent upon the upheaval and destruction of the life of the one who volunteered to assist him in fulfilling it? We feel she should be “Generously Thanked” and “Conveniently Assisted” by the “Homecare” plan. Let us continue to get our point heard and acted upon, that we should be working “together” for the successful journey & comfortable transition from “OUR HOME” to his “HEAVENLY HOME,” for our Father.
I am a case manager with the Southwestern Vermont Council on Aging. I’m here with a woman who cares for her father in her home. Her father is an 84 year old man who had a stroke and is no longer able to care for himself. Besides the stroke, his Medical health is very compromised by his diabetes, loss of memory, CHF, gangrene in his foot and loss of hearing.
The Choices for Care program allows him to remain living with his daughter. She works outside of the home and she has caregivers from Bayada Nursing service come in and care for him while she is at work. The nights and weekends are covered by herself without payment from the CFC program. The personal care hours and companionship hours that her father qualifies for are consumed by her working hours and 4 hours on a Saturday so she could do the shopping for the household.
As you can see caring for your loved on is a consuming selfless act. When I asked her what would this mean to have the companionship hours cut in half along with the IADL hours cut from 4.5 to 2, she replied by saying “they are managing on bare bone hours as it is, so with more hours taken away then what would they have left.”
Her father’s medical care is so fragile that even when he does end up at the hospital for a stay Michele has to stay with him to make sure that his care is managed. Consequently she loses her income from her own job. The caregivers and she know him so well that even if there is a small change in his health they are able to pick up on it so that medical attention can be obtained. His Dr feels that his care is able to be managed as well as it has been over the years because he is at home and has that one on one caregiver that knows him so well.
When I asked him where he wants to live, he said HERE. I want to live at Home!
Not only is this about this man and his last wishes, but it also affects things so much more. Without the hours that are needed to keep him home at the fraction of the cost, the state will then be paying for him to live at a nursing home which would increase the cost by more than 2000. The two employees who work for Bayada will have their hours cut and who knows what that means for them.
Please consider the effect that cutting the hours for the Choices for Care program really means. Thank you!