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February 14. 2014 8:35PM

Help for seniors in need of assistance may be close by

MANCHESTER — The Moore Center has been able to match up some seniors who are on Medicaid, and in need of assistance with certain activities and chores, with housekeeping services and — sometimes — residential foster care.

But Kathy Boylan, director of Moore Options for seniors, said there is nothing the Moore Center can do for seniors who are not eligible for Medicaid — or medically qualified — but still need more help than they can afford on a fixed income.

“It’s so frustrating,” she said.

Boylan said a new program called HomeShare NH will expand options for seniors. HomeShare NH is intended to match people needing some assistance with people willing to offer it in return for reduced or free room and/or board.

It’s modeled on a successful Vermont program that’s been matching seniors with live-in providers for more than 30 years. Discussions and planning have been underway for the past three years, and Boylan said HomeShare NH is about ready to launch.

“We are at the point of accepting applications,” she said, and she’s already received 16.

“Surprisingly, the majority are on the home provider side,” she said, offering to share homes in return for services.

She’s optimistic the program could eventually be spun off into an independent nonprofit, helping match up seniors and providers.

Boylan said both parties benefit. In some instances, it is more of a provider/client relationship. In others, it can be like extended family or like roommates of different ages and capabilities.

Matching people won’t be like pairing college roommates, where a person fills out a form and someone, or a computer, does the matching.

The process will be personal, she said. There will be a home visit to the provider’s residence to determine needs and wishes.

“Part assessment of the home, part interview,” said Boylan. HomeShare wants to know everything about the potential “host” residence and its resident or residents. What’s the family structure? Are there pets and what kind? What kind of physical or mental health issues may exist? The home seeker is also interviewed thoroughly. There are criminal background checks.

“It’s a very intense screening program,” said Boylan, and it applies to both sides.

The home providers will vary in age, health and economic status. They often don’t want to leave a longtime residence, but they may be unable to keep it up physically — or financially — or both.

There may not be family nearby, or nearby family is too busy with its own needs to meet the needs of the senior too.

The home seekers vary by age and usually do not want to live alone or cannot afford to do so. Some are students. Some are involuntary retirees. Some are handier than others.

The services sought, or offered, may be as simple as companionship or as complex as full housekeeping, including meals. Or it can be anything in between. That has to be negotiated between the potential matches. “They sit down to talk about all the details,” said Boylan.

When the screening process finds what appears to be a good match and the initial meeting goes well, a one-week sleepover is arranged.

If that goes well, then an agreement is worked out and drawn up between the two parties. It includes how problem-solving will be done, and it is for a specified length of time. That last part is important, although timeframes can be renegotiated.

Working with the Vermont program has been helpful, she said, and the Moore Center has had worked to make sure everything is legal. “This was an opportunity to put some safeguards in place,” she said. “It’s protection for both (parties),” she said.

Boylan said the Moore Center has applied for operational funding from Medicaid’s Balanced Incentive Program, which provides grants to states to increase access to non-institutional, long-term services and supports.

That describes HomeShare, she said. Boylan said she is hoping the first Homeshare NH match will be done within the month. “We’re ready to go,” she said.

For more information about HomeShare NH or for applying to be a home provider or home seeker, contact Boylan at 603-206-2826; or email Boylan at kathy.boylan@moorecenter.org


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