Ann Busche: Learning more about Health and Human Services’ elderly servicesThis article is the fifth in a series aimed at helping you get to know your Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) department.
By: Ann Busche, Budgeteer News
This article is the fifth in a series aimed at helping you get to know your Public Health and Human Services (PHHS) department.
PHHS is structured by program areas as follows: adult disabilities, children and family services, elderly services, financial assistance and public health.
We also have a division of administration which provides all the support functions, such as accounting, clerical support and contract management, to these programmatic areas.
So, in the spirit of getting to know PHHS, here’s some detail on the elderly services division.
Sorry to all those who are 65-plus and reading this: You may not feel elderly, but if you were to need services from PHHS, you would most likely receive them from our elderly services division.
Another important service contained in this division is “waiver” services.
In 1981, the federal government amended the Social Security Act, Section 1915, to provide for services to be delivered to individuals on medical assistance (MA) in their home or community.
Before this amendment, MA would only pay for care that was delivered in an institutional setting.
States received permission from the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to “waive” the institutional setting requirement as long as the care provided to an eligible person in their home or community setting was at a cost less than or equal to the cost of the institutional setting.
Some readers might remember the Moose Lake Treatment Center, where many individuals with mental health or developmental disabilities were institutionalized.
This federal amendment allowed those individuals to move into community settings, typically a four-person, adult foster care home, where their quality of life was improved by experiencing a family-like setting.
This amendment has also encouraged the growth in services to the elderly which allows them to stay in their own homes (or transition to assisted living versus going into a nursing home).
If it seems like there are more homes in your neighborhood that have disabled adults or elderly living in them, you are not imagining things.
Home- and community-based services has been a growing industry in our area over the past 30 years and has a huge economic impact.
In St. Louis County, there are 89 family adult foster care homes and 332 corporate adult foster care homes serving 1,375 individuals.
These homes employ staff and provide a home environment for the individuals they serve.
These homes buy groceries, take their clients to local attractions and restaurants and generally support our local economy.
In 2008, more than $84 million was paid to St. Louis County home- and community-based providers.
The elderly services division also has the responsibility to license these foster care homes.
One of the important mission-critical services in this division is long-term-care consultations, where a public health nurse and social worker go into a home to determine if the person is at risk of nursing home placement and, if so, what can be done to help the person remain in his or her current living arrangement.
PHHS staff also determines if an individual meets the eligibility criteria for one of the waiver programs approved by CMS in Minnesota: developmentally disabled, community alternatives for disabled individuals, community alternative care, traumatic brain injury and elderly waiver (known to us as DD, CADI, CAC, TBI and EW).
Once a person is determined eligible, a mandated service is the ongoing evaluation of needs, creation of a plan of care and ongoing monitoring of services delivered.
One of the voluntary services coordinated by this division is our volunteer driver program.
We greatly appreciate and rely on volunteers willing to drive clients to required appointments, most of which are medical.
Writer Ann Busche is the director of the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services department. Contact her at 726-2096 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.