Senior Services to solicit bids for assistance services

By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

Dozens of elderly people in Henry County depend on assistance they receive from outside sources a few hours a week so they can maintain an independent lifestyle in their own homes.

Henry County Senior Services has provided that assistance and continues to do so. That means keeping in compliance with state regulations, and the county is adjusting its process a bit to continue doing that.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners, approved at its Sept. 5 regular meeting, a request for Senior Services to solicit bids from licensed agencies that can provide personal care and respite services to clients in their homes. The move came with a transfer of $140,000 into the Senior Services budget. A program coordinator will be hired to oversee all aspects of the in-home services program, and funds are available in the current budget for that.

Senior Services director Diane Reed said that her department spends close to $750,000 per year on in-home services, with the state providing the bulk of the funding.

This is non-medical care, and it comes in several forms. Perhaps the best-known service is Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals each week to homebound clients. Personal care support services include a visit from a certified nursing assistant who helps with bathing/grooming, eating, and managing incontinence, among other things. In some cases those professionals also provide “homemaker care,” performing tasks such as cleaning kitchens and bathrooms, changing linens, laundry and vacuuming.

Another aspect of this service is respite care, where staffers come in for a period of time to provide relief for full-time caregivers such as family members.

All of these services are provided for clients as determined by the department. Some pay nothing because of their low income levels, but income by itself is not a disqualifier for the service, Reed said.

There are waiting lists, and right now the typical wait time is 30 days for inclusion in the meal program as well as 60-90 days for other in-home services.

In 2015 Henry County Senior Services provided 14,552 units of in-home personal care (one unit equals one hour at one client’s home). There were 48,474 home-delivered meals as well as 78,614 meals served at one of the county’s three senior centers where breakfast and lunch are served daily. More than 8,000 volunteer hours helped make this output possible, according to a county staff report.

The department currently serves 65 clients with personal care, 62 with homemaker care and 15 with respite care. There are 185 regular clients for meal delivery.