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Chatham County seeks residents with in-home service needs

By Debra J. Henzey
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007

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Pittsboro, NC -The Chatham County Department of Social Services has recently expanded its ability to provide special in-home services to qualified elderly and disabled residents so that they can safely stay in their homes and avoid placement in an adult-care facility.

“Thanks to approval from the state, we can serve an additional eight people, but the people we serve must meet specific criteria,” said John Tanner, director of social services for the county.

Tanner said that “they must be eligible for Medicaid, be at least 18 years old, and be qualified for placement in an adult care facility. However, these residents desire to stay in their homes as long as possible and can do so safely if they had special assistance.”

The program offers a cash benefit to qualified residents, based on their income level. “The benefit can be used for a wide array of things,” said Ethel Farrell, supervisor of adult services.

“The funds are often used to make household repairs that would improve comfort or accessibility, such as installing a wheelchair ramp or safety bars in bathrooms. However, it also can be used to help heat the home, buy groceries or medications, provide respite care for the caregiver, or even help pay the rent or mortgage.”

Farrell said that a specific example of a county resident who benefited from the program is an 80-year-old man confined to a wheelchair. “The in-home benefit covered the cost of a prosthetic leg so that he can do much more for himself.”

County recipients have used the funds for everything from buying diabetic test strips to supplying heating oil to providing a sitter so that the primary caregiver could continue to work in order to provide a household income.

Residents interested in applying for special in-home services should contact the Department of Social Services at 919-642-6933. “We expect these slots to be filled fairly quickly on a first-come, first-served basis, so contact our office immediately if you think you are eligible,” Farrell said.

Tanner said that the county was able to obtain more slots for special in-home services because it had been effective in using past allocations for these services. “While the state does consider need in the county, it also looks at how well you have managed previous slots to effectively meet residents’ needs.”

Tanner added that not all counties participate in this program. “It is an option to do so, but we believe that these funds are critical in helping people stay in their homes longer, which is almost always their preference. This can vastly improve the quality of their lives.”

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