Keeping Home A Sweet Home For Seniors

For seniors, basic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and paying bills can be difficult. These acts can be even more challenging for those who don’t have family nearby or can’t afford home healthcare services. For some, the need is so great that they are on the verge of failing regularly required HUD inspections and are at risk of being sent to nursing homes. Here in Birmingham, Collat Jewish Family Services is assisting seniors in need through their Comprehensive Care Management Program (CCMP).

Lynn Rathmell from the CCMP and Cora W.

Lynn Rathmell from the CCMP and Cora W.

Though many of these individuals don’t need daily assistance, help through a home healthcare agency would be prohibitively expensive, said Lauren Perlman, Executive Director of CCMP. “We realized that having someone come in for one or two hours a week would help with cleaning, meal preparation and even personal hygiene if that was an issue,” said Perlman.

“For a relatively low cost, we can enable seniors to stay in their homes,” said Perlman. On average, the cost of keeping one senior in their home through this program is around $2,300 per year. In contrast, it would cost the state about $55,000 a year to maintain that individual in a nursing home.

As a primarily grant-funded program, the growth of the CCMP is dependent on the amount of funding received from outside sources. With a two year grant provided by the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham, the program has been able to expand towards its goal of serving 125 seniors, said Perlman. “Without this grant, some of these individuals would be in nursing homes. Others would be living in squalor and really be suffering as a result.”

In the program, a social worker assesses each senior’s access to nutrition, healthcare and transportation as well as their ability to maintain their home. A case manager then puts together a plan to address each need that has been identified. For some, this includes gaining access to assistance programs. “If somebody is eligible for SNAP or VA benefits, our case managers can help,” said Perlman.

“The most important thing to me is that the impact of these services on each individual and the community is recognized,” said Perlman. “These services are vital, and without the support of the Community Foundation, we couldn’t do it.”