IN THIS ISSUE:
- SPOTLIGHT:CARIE Helps Elders Face Winter’s Challenges
- MARK IT ON YOUR CALENDAR! CARIE’s Annual Benefit & Auction
- UPDATES: Diane Menio Is Honored
- FOCUS ON: CARIE’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program
- MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Meet Yvette Green
- POLICY MATTERS: The Advocate’s Voice
“Millions of seniors every day . . . . around this country, have to juggle with their limited budgets, their ability to buy food, their ability to buy medicine, or, in the wintertime, their ability to keep themselves warm in their homes. Those are not the choices that seniors in this country should be forced to make.” – Said by a United States Senator on the floor of the Senate, June 15, 2015.
Winter poses special challenges for older adults living on fixed incomes. For low-income elders the struggles are even greater. Shorter days and colder temperatures mean higher utility bills imperiling an elder’s ability to remain warm and safe and also pay the rent or mortgage, higher food costs and, often, increased medical expenses as winter brings cold and flu season. Winter conditions also contribute to older adults’ isolation, making normal errands and shopping, visits to friends, and participation in community and social activities especially difficult and risky.
In winter, as throughout the year, CARIE is only a telephone call (215.545.5728; 800.356.3606) or a click away for any elder or caregiver needing help in accessing supports that can make a critical difference in an elder’s quality of life and ability to remain independent. What continues to make CARIE unique among organizations serving the elderly is our ability to address any challenge an elder may be facing. We are not limited to helping an older adult access adequate food or maintain a warm and secure house, or obtain adequate health care coverage, or arrange needed transportation. CARIE LINE Advocates are able to help with all of these vital issues and more!
As winter approaches with its promise of cold, snow and ice, if you know an older adult or caregiver who has concerns or questions about the services and supports, benefits and entitlements, that are available for elders, or who needs help accessing them, make sure they know about CARIE. A live person (rather than a series of digital prompts) will answer their call between 9 AM – 5 PM weekdays (215.545.5728; 800.356.3606) and the CARIE LINE can be reached online anytime!
A Reception and Benefit Auction for CARIE
Mark your calendar and plan to join us for a wonderful evening of food, drink and great company on April 20, 2016 at WHYY Civic Space while supporting CARIE and the work we do throughout the year to help ensure independence and quality of life for older adults. The evening will include silent and live auctions, with a terrific array of items to bid on including fabulous vacations, artwork, cultural events, gift certificates to wonderful restaurants, sports tickets, overnight hotel stays, and much, much more! Check our event website for exciting news and updates!
UPDATE: CARIE’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR IS HONORED
CARIE is very proud to announce that Diane Menio has been named a 2015 honoree by two of the region’s leading organizations, the Good Shepherd Mediation Program and the Eastern Pennsylvania Geriatric Society. In naming Diane a “Shepherd of Peace” at a reception held on October 21, Good Shepherd recognized Diane for her strong and consistent voice on behalf of the rights and well-being of older Pennsylvanians. The award particularly cited her leadership in efforts to reform the Pennsylvania elder guardianship system and her support for the use of elder mediation to help resolve family conflicts that otherwise might result in the appointment of a guardian for an elderly parent or other family member.
Diane’s leadership in the field of elder advocacy will again be recognized at the Eastern Pennsylvania Geriatrics Society Awards Dinner on December 7, when Diane will receive the prestigious Charles Ewing Memorial President’s Award named for the founder of the Society, who was a visionary in the field of geriatrics. The award “is given to an individual who has made significant contributions in the field of aging and our understanding of geriatrics.” Congratulations to Diane on well-earned recognition of her leadership and commitment to advocacy in behalf of older adults!
FOCUS ON: CARIE’S LONG TERM CARE OMBUDSMAN
CARIE is committed to ensuring that every older adult can continue living in his or her home and community for as long as possible. However, for some older adults, a long term care setting can provide care and safety that is not otherwise available. The role of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman is, first and foremost, to act as an advocate for consumers in long term care settings including nursing homes, personal care homes, assisted living facilities, domiciliary care homes, older adult centers and LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) programs.
CARIE Ombudsman Jessica Hartfield talks with long term care consumers
CARIE Ombudsmen investigate and seek to resolve complaints related to residents’ rights and concerns about the quality of care for 4,000 consumers receiving long term care in 150 long term care settings throughout South, West, Southwest, Central and North Philadelphia. The Ombudsman will become involved only with the consumer’s permission and will protect the consumer’s identity when requested and if possible given the nature of the problem.
Recently Mrs. H. called CARIE’s Long Term Care Ombudsman angry and upset. The nursing home where she lived was not allowing her son Jim to visit. Jim does shift work and currently can’t get to the nursing home until after permitted “visiting hours.” Mrs. H had not seen him in over two weeks. With Mrs. H’s permission, the Ombudsman met with the nursing home Administrator. The Ombudsman reminded the Administrator that under federal regulations, residents have a right to immediate access to family members. In response, the Administrator was able to offer a solution – designating a more private space in the nursing home where Mrs. H could visit with her son at night without disturbing other residents. Mrs. H and her son are now seeing each other regularly again, to the great joy of both – and the nursing home has a new policy for the benefit of all residents!
If you know a resident or consumer of long term care who has questions or complaints about the quality of their care or treatment, or problems regarding admission or discharge, tell them about the Ombudsman Program and let them know that they can reach CARIE’s Long Term Care Ombudsman staff at (215. 545.5728 or 800.356.3606) for help.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE – MEET YVETTE GREEN
Inglis House, one of the long term care settings where CARIE acts as the Long Term Care Ombudsman, is a specialty nursing care facility providing long-term residential care for adults with physical disabilities. It is the home of Yvette Green, a member of CARIE’s Board of Directors and one of Inglis House’s PEER Advocates.
The PEER (Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents) program was developed to empower residents in long term care facilities to act as volunteer peer ombudsmen. To become a PEER, Ms. Green went through the training program led by Lori Walsh, CARIE’s Long Term Care Ombudsman Program Manager, to learn about residents’ rights, how to advocate for those rights for herself and her fellow residents, and how to work with facility staff to enhance their quality of care and life for all residents. Self-resolution and empowerment are themes that are consistently emphasized in the PEER program.
We asked Ms. Green if she would share her experience as a PEER Advocate.
CARIE: Yvette, how did you first hear about the PEER program?
Yvette Green: I first heard about PEER from Inglis Resident Council. I got to meet Lori Walsh and Diane Menio.
C: Why were you interested in becoming a PEER Advocate?
YG: There is a need for change in the lives of LTC [long term care] from warehousing of the disabled and the elderly to living normal lives in nursing facilities. I wanted to affect a change, however small.
C: What sort of training did you have to go through? Who provided the training? How long was the training program?
YG: We went through a six week course of basic laws governing nursing homes, and what to do, or how to direct residents through the myriad chain of command to resolve any concerns they may have. Lori Walsh provided the training to 18 of us. We all had varying degrees of disability, but she managed to make sure all of us understood what it meant to be a PEER before we graduated.
C: How have you been able to utilize your role as a PEER Advocate at Inglis House? Do you feel you’ve made a difference for others living at Inglis House? Can you give one or two examples?
YG: I have utilized my role as PEER by serving as co-chair of the PEERS, holding monthly meetings with other PEERS, and trying to maintain a more cohesive group. I’ve helped a couple of residents resolve problems when they have felt all means have been exhausted. I don’t feel I do enough.
We worked on a project with the Robert Wood Johnson Scholars, brought to us by Lori Walsh and Diane Menio. We established points or enhancements that would affect positively on residents’ lives including:
Portable skype and internet has been made accessible to people confined to their rooms.This is done by our Social Enrichment Dept now
We created preference cards for residents to state their preferences regarding everyday decision-making as part of person-centered care and piloted them in one unit of Inglis House.
C: What challenges did you encounter as a PEER Advocate?
YG: Keeping the PEERS together. Person Centered Care (PCC) is the big push here and we don’t get to have a voice in helping other residents utilizing what we’ve learned but are getting absorbed into PCC; communicating with PEERS from other residences; and becoming just an ‘activity.’
C. What advice would give to someone who wants to become a PEER Advocate?
YG: I would make sure you have total support of the administration and staff, make sure your group is run by residents but with necessary resources.
POLICY MATTERS: THE ADVOCATE’S VOICE
Pennsylvania continues to move forward with its Managed Long-Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) proposal, now called Community HealthChoices (CHC). CARIE submitted comments on Community HealthChoices on October 16 and continues to work with other consumer advocates on this issue. As we noted in the last issue of the CARIEJournal, CARIE and other elder advocates are concerned about the shift to case management of Medicaid services by private managed care organizations rather than county Area Agencies on Aging. CARIE updated its MLTSS consumer education flyer created to help educate older adults about some of the changes and how they can participate in the planning process.
On October 7, CARIE sponsored a webinar “PA’s Community HealthChoices Proposal: What Advocates Need to Know“ with Eric Carlson, Directing Attorney for Justice in Aging who reviewed the Community HealthChoices Program Concept Paper that briefly describes Governor Wolf’s proposed design for PA’s new Managed Long Term Services and Supports (MLTSS) system. This webinar was a follow-up to September’s webinar featuring Mr. Carlson. Click to view the slides for the October 7 presentation. The last two slides were added after the webinar to share additional information Eric provided in response to questions asked during the webinar.
Note: You may also access CARIE’s previous webinar with Eric Carlson,“Pennsylvania’s MLTSS Proposal: Key Considerations for Advocates.“ The accompanying slides are also available.
THE CENTER FOR ADVOCACY FOR THE RIGHTS AND INTERESTS OF THE ELDERLY (CARIE)
CARIE is a Philadelphia-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to improve the well-being, rights and autonomy of older adults through advocacy, education and action. CARIE operates on two levels, providing advocacy and assistance to individual elders and their caregivers to help ensure the highest quality of life and greatest independence possible. Information about gaps and barriers to accessing needed services and supports gained through our work with individual clients informs our policy advocacy in behalf of older adults throughout the region and across Pennsylvania and beyond. Please support CARIE!