My husband and I were told that people rarely get round the clock care through Medicaid. Yet my husband and I got my 97 year-old mother-in-law 24 hour care. Read below to find out how we did it.
I’ve received several inquiries about my 97-year-old mother-in-law Lillian. Many of you have been following my search for the right nursing home for her. Currently Lillian is receiving 10 hours of Medicaid home care daily but my husband, Paul and I are concerned that she might eventually need more care than Medicaid will allow.
Here is a status update: We have currently put our search on hold. And the reason? Lillian now has 24-hour home care!
No one is more surprise than I. I was told many times that no one gets 24-hour Medicaid home care now that all service have been delegated to private managed long-term care agencies (MLTC). Managed long-term care agencies are private companies that have been approved by the government to take over the care of Medicaid eligible people. In 2013 New York State joined many other states and began shifting home attendant services to the private sector.
The eldercare community has been concerned. Many professionals believe private home care agencies will make it harder for families to get sufficient home attendant services. I have attended numerous seminars and conferences on home care, and have listened to more professionals than I can count on both hands warning me that Medicaid rarely, if ever will offers 24-hour home care. But Lillian now has it…and you know how we got it? We asked!
Lillian had been receiving 10 hours of care a day for the last two years, but she is left alone at night. That was fine when she slept through the night, but in the last few months, Lillian has started sleeping a large part of the day and wanders around her apartment alone at night. Paul and I have removed the knobs from the stove so she can’t turn it on and unplugged the microwave so she can’t warm water for her “babies’’” hot water bottles. The babies are her stuffed toys who she cares for. We are afraid she might program the microwave for an hour rather than a minute. Although we have insured her safety, we are powerless to take away her fears. Lillian often gets lonely or frightened late at night and calls us. I listen to Paul at 3 in the morning assuring her that she is safe. Needless to say, this is stressful. Finally a neighbor found Lillian wandering the halls of her apartment building in her nightgown one morning and we knew we had to act.
We started calling nursing homes and asking for admission applications. We began gathering all her medical data and financial forms. In a moment of desperation we called Lillian’s home care agency. We asked if a nurse could reassess her needs. They agreed. A nurse appeared two days later and by the end of the week Lillian had 24-hour care. One of her current aides agreed to the longer shift, so Lillian has one familiar face and the agency has assigned two other aides to cover the remaining hours. Lillian likes them all.
We made a few changes to accommodate the extra care. We bought a second TV for the aides. Lillian has a set in her bedroom for her “babies” to watch. Now we have one in the living room so the aide could watch when Lillian sleeps. We also purchased a second air conditioner. Lillian has one in her bedroom, but rarely uses it because she is often cold even in sweltering weather. The second air conditioner is installed in the living room so the aides could sit near one while Lillian is in her bedroom.
So for now all is well. We were told many times that Medicaid home care never gives anyone 24 hour care, but we decided to try. The agency nurse showed up, asked a few questions, assessed Lillian’s mental and physical state, and she was immediately approved for constant care.
Which brings me to the point of this entry. The first step you need when a loved one needs care is to ask! Even if you don’t think you’ll get it. Sometimes your requests are answered.