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HEALTH: Keeping individuals in their homes

Throughout the United Way of Story County (UWSC) LIVE UNITED campaign, this column is highlighting different programs in the community that impact areas of education, income and health to give readers an idea of the work being done locally.

In the area of health, UWSC supports home health assistance and home based Hospice through HOMEWARD, a Mary Greeley Medical Center service. HOMEWARD’s home health assistance program, referred to as Homemaker, assists clients so they can maintain an independent lifestyle in their own home. Personal care and exercises provided by the homemaker increase an individual’s strength, and help the individual return to a more normal life after an illness or hospitalization. Last year, HOMEWARD provided Homemaker service to 214 Story County residents who ranged in age from 25 to over 100. More than 85 percent of clients were 60 or older.

Homemaker service provides personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, meal preparation, grocery shopping and light housekeeping. During the homemaker visit, the client’s safety is assessed and recommendations for a safer environment are encouraged. A nurse visits each personal care Homemaker client at least every other month, during which a review of the individual’s medications and a comprehensive physical assessment are conducted. The nurse reviews the client’s medical and equipment needs, assesses the home environment and supervises the homemaker.

Patsy Beese, financial analyst and HOMEWARD employee for more than 30 years, says the Homemaker service is an important part of the necessary care to allow people to remain independent in their home.

“Without this service, many individuals would have safety concerns and struggle with personal hygiene, housekeeping, cooking and other activities of daily living,” said Beese. “Undoubtedly, some individuals would require out-of-home placement much sooner. The individual’s quality of life and well-being would be diminished. The individual might not prepare nutritious meals, and their dietary needs would not be adequately met. Fear of living alone would increase. General well-being and health could be compromised because of the anxiety and improper diet. Every Homemaker client we serve wishes to remain independent in their own home as long as they safely can do so, and this program helps them achieve that goal. Last year, 94 percent of Homemaker clients felt the service prevented out-of-home placement.”

Beese said HOMEWARD is very dependent on funding from United Way of Story County to continue providing services at reduced rates to low- and moderate-income clients.

“The trend over the past year plus is an increase in hours for the lower income clients and a reduction in service to our full-fee clients,” Beese says. “People with upper income levels and resources have several opportunities for environmental homemaker services, while choices for low-income clients who can’t afford service from private companies are limited.”

United Way of Story County is a strategic leader in building county-wide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support, and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.

(Sara Wilson is marketing director of United Way of Story County, a strategic leader in building county-wide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluates effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.)

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