The Resource - Spring 2005

The (M)assachusetts (R)ehabilitation (C)ommission's primary focus is to provide supportive services for people who have disabilities in order to maximize their independence and ability to be productive community members.

Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Home Care Assistance Program
27 Wormwood Street, Boston, MA 02210-1616
1-800-223-2559 or 617-204-3853

The Home Care Assistance Program staff encourages consumers to call with questions or concerns regarding homemaking services.

Home Care Assistance Program Staff

Betty Maher Director

Felix Jordan Supervisor

Case Managers

Marian Burns Boston (A-H) and Brookline

Angela Cipriano Northern Middlesex County

Eloise Cruz Boston (I-M), East Norfolk County and surrounding towns

Jodi Watson Plymouth County and the Cape

Maria King Boston (N-Z), Chelsea, Winthrop, and Revere

Robin Kellett Essex County

Liz Morin Western MA, West Worcester County

Katherine Chesebro West Norfolk County and South Middlesex County

April Anderson Bristol County and surrounding towns and the Islands (Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard)

Debra Visocchi East Worcester County, Northwest Middlesex County

Paulina Mauras Intake Coordinator

Support Staff

Lilly Lau Accountant

Edward Loring Accountant

Christine Rinaldi Administrative Assistant

Christina Perez-Rivera Clerk


What's New in Home Care

Submitted by Katherine Chesebro

As you can see from our staff list there have been several changes this past year. The MRC-HCAP Director, Kevin Farrell, and two supervisors, Georgette Deraney and Gerry Crowley, have retired. We appreciate the combined 100 years of service that all three of our friends and co-workers have given to the MRC-HCAP! We all wish them health and happiness in their retirement!

Felix Jordan is now supervising MRC-HCAP Case Managers. Betty Maher has been promoted to Program Director. Jodi Watson has been promoted from Intake Coordinator to MRC-HCAP Case Manager. We also welcome new MRC-HCAP Case Managers, Maria King and Liz Morin and Intake Coordinator, Paulina Mauras. Congratulations to all!

MRC-HCAP has also acquired new contracts with two additional homemaking agencies as follows:

  • Attentive Home Care, Marion
  • Family Assist Home Care, Swampscott

Welcome aboard!

MRC-HCAP recently conducted a Home Care Assistant survey, which was sent to all Home Care Assistants statewide. The purpose of the survey was to receive feedback regarding homemaking services. MRC-HCAP received a good response. We thank all who participated in the survey. The results of the survey will be posted in the next newsletter.

MRC-HCAP appreciates the informative and inspirational articles that consumers submit. If you would like to share your story or a resource for the next newsletter, please contact your MRC-HCAP Case Manager. MRC-HCAP staff is discussing distributing two newsletters per year to keep you informed. In order for this to happen we need information from you! Input from MRC-HCAP consumers is valuable and helpful to all who receive services. We would also appreciate input from homemaking vendors too!

MRC-HCAP to Hold Public Hearings

Submitted by Betty Maher

MRC-HCAP will be holding public hearings to review proposed changes to the program regulations. The central change is to the Eligibility Criteria: all applicants will need to have MassHealth in order to receive MRC-HCAP services. Public hearings are scheduled for:

Monday, June 6, 2005
11:00 am-2:00 pm
MRC Worcester Area Office
359 Main Street
Worcester, MA

Monday, June 13, 2005
11:00 am-2:00 pm
MRC Quincy AreaOffice
275 Hancock Street, 2nd Floor
Quincy, MA

Copies of the proposed regulations will be available at the hearings or may be obtained by contacting Terry Walsh, MRC Policy and Planning Director at (617) 204-3708. Written comments may be submitted to Betty Maher, MRC-HCAP Director, 27 Wormwood St., Boston, MA 02210 or by email: betty.maher@mrc.state.ma.us.

Homemaking Vendor Showcase: Personal Touch Home Care

Submitted by Judith Labossiere, Personal Touch Home Care
Regional Manager

Personal Touch is a national, family-based, home care agency with more than 60 offices nationwide. The Brighton office has been in Massachusetts for over 25 years. The Dartmouth office has been open for 11 years.

In 2002, Personal Touch brought me on board to expand the Massachusetts market. Offices in Springfield and North Chelmsford opened in September 2002. The Worcester office opened in the summer of 2004 and our newest office in Gloucester opened in September 2004. These offices are strong, dynamic, and fast growing.

Our mission throughout all of our offices is the same…"to provide people with comprehensive, high quality home care services where each individual is offered personal choice in their plan of care. We are committed to helping people Feel Good Again".

The North Chelmsford office is especially adept at providing this caring, personal approach. Coordinators, Nicole Beaumier and Larry Kanan under the mentorship of our very special coordinator, Rena Maldonado, have developed an external and internal customer service approach unparalleled in home care. They never say "no". The office mission is "we CAN do it and do it well", states Lorraine Tunstall, Branch Manager of the North Chelmsford office. These coordinators are as compassionate and caring to the staff (of over 200 home health aides, personal care attendants, and homemakers) as they are to their clients.

The paraprofessional staff is also exceptional in this office. We have over 200 applicants waiting for positions to join this extraordinary team. Home health aides, personal care attendants and homemakers are dedicated to their clients. Coordinators work diligently to keep the paraprofessionals working in tight geographical locations to decrease their driving time and hours of work lost. The atmosphere within all our offices is much like an extended family where everyone cares about each other.

Our relationship with MRC began in January 2003. We are beginning to serve more and more MRC clients and look forward to a strong, healthy, long-term relationship. Currently, our offices service over 1,000 clients throughout the state.

We received so many requests for service in the upper Merrimack Valley that we have recently opened an expansion area to service more clients from Haverhill to Newburyport. We are happy to report that this expansion area has been growing steadily. Referral sources, clients, and workers are very pleased with the effort.

Personal Touch Home Care is a full service, Medicare/Medicaid provider. All offices offer nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and medical social work, as well as home health aides, personal care attendants, and homemakers. Some offices specialize in other disciplines such as psychiatric nursing, home infusion, and maternal child services.

Many of our Elder Service clients and/or MRC clients convert to certified homecare when medical conditions exacerbate. Personal Touch is ready and willing to provide every client with the appropriate service that they require to remain living independently and healthy in the community.

The Benefits of a Home Care Assistant

Submitted by June Hailer

Most MRC-HCAP eligible consumers who hire their own Home Care Assistant (HCA) do so for four possible reasons:

1. There are no local agencies in their areas that can provide homemaking services to individuals

2. The agencies cannot accommodate specific disabilities (such a multiple chemical sensitivities)

3. The agencies do not have enough available homemakers

4. Individuals with disabilities who need homemaking services have constant concerns about the homemakers that are sent to their homes

Some consumers find out about the option to hire HCAs through their MRC-HCAP Case Managers. Most consumers find and hire HCAs through neighbors, friends, and word of mouth.

Homemakers sent to individuals' homes from agencies might vary from day-to-day or week-to-week, while an HCA is usually one person who comes into a person with a disability's home on a regular basis. These HCAs are generally informed of and trained in the program rules and tasks and stick to them. They are people who know the consumers that they work for well, as well as details of their disabilities. The HCAs tend to stay on the job for longer periods of time (months to years) and are very dependable. Consumers get to know the HCAs quite well, find the HCAs to be more trustworthy and are more comfortable having HCAs in their homes (I find that this does not happen as readily with agency homemakers).

Home Care Assistants develop a strong rapport with the consumers who hire them. The HCAs clearly see the need for their positions or jobs. Therefore, they take the quality of their completed work seriously, are reliable and responsible and have infrequent absenteeism.

Remember that consumers must be at home when agency homemakers or HCAs come in. Agency homemakers arrange to come to consumers' homes at certain times during the week or on weekends. The HCAs may be more flexible with the times they can come to work each week. The latter allows consumers to take on a full or part-time job or even volunteer in their communities if they are able or wish to.

Finally, choice is the issue for consumers. A consumer may use an agency homemaker or HCA- whatever works for you. Here's a reminder too: if your HCA has to leave his/her position, you can always request an agency homemaker until you find a new HCA or just decide to permanently keep the agency homemaker. It is up to you and your MRC-HCAP Case Manager. Work together and stay informed!

If I Can Move Forward, You Can Too

Submitted by Walter King

We all certainly want to enjoy our lives as much as possible in these hard times. That can be hard, of course, with public services retrenching as badly as they are, thanks to the economy. I always wonder how can I keep a good attitude in spite of the problems that usually seem to come up.

As a person with a disability, my most important goal is to live as independently as possible. That is not easy sometimes with my one good leg; and, I am not allowed to drive because I have had too many seizures. However, I can still enjoy living one day at a time, because I do many things that anyone can do.

I know that although I cannot do everything I want at once, I cannot change the inevitable in my life. But, I believe even a small amount of progress is better than none at all. There is no reason why I cannot look forward to doing at least some good for myself every day- whatever I can handle.

Everyone has a choice each day regarding his or her perspective to embrace for the day. My favorite things are counting my blessings, accentuating the positive and creating achievable, and therefore, satisfying goals. I then can create a game plan to accomplish the goals.

One of my favorite problems I solved is that of cabin fever. I live in a remote part of the state and cannot go out easily. I know I go through at least some symptoms of cabin fever, so I have turned things around to make it so I live in the nicest cabin possible.

I once had a conversation with a neurologist about this situation. The doctor gave me some very good advice. He pointed out that since I live by myself (and I properly keep up with my rent and other affairs) my apartment, which is my home, is like my castle. I can do any reasonable thing here. I can let my guard down as much as I want and need. I can think of my apartment like an island of tranquility and a refuge in a very stormy world.

Now I have been collecting my favorite music and videos for a long time. I figured that if I could not go out to be entertained, I would bring my entertainment home. I am actually able to keep extra money in my pocket despite the cost increase of food, cab fares, and energy resources.

There are many small tricks I like to use to save money these days. I like to make a game of tailoring my lifestyle to see how many days a month I can go without spending a cent. I also like to collect my coins when I spend money and leave the collection alone for as long as possible. I then get paper rolls from my local bank to convert my coins into free dollars.

I plan all my purchases ahead of time and I tailor my grocery purchases to store sales, bulk purchases, and my Boston Globe coupons. I count prices from my previous week's receipts and price tags from older products to make sure that I am eligible for store coupons.

By using these methods I can save a little money and still afford to buy an occasional CD or DVD while living in a pleasant, comfortable place. Some people have even said I live in paradise because of how I manage my daily lifestyle.

Every person, of course, is his/her own individual. All circumstances are different. I hope I may offer some good ideas and make a difference by helping other people through my own personal experiences.

It's been a long hard road for me...

Submitted by Michelle Faison

I was born and raised in Winthrop. I left in 1973 to go to Philadelphia to attend nursing school, and stayed there to work as a RN. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, which, in my case, carries with it chronic pain and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There's never a time when I'm not in pain, it's just a question of how bad. I also have Bipolar Disorder with bouts of depression, suicidal ideation, and, at times, Dissociative Disorder. Then in December of 1999, I was diagnosed with a Seizure Disorder. Despite my efforts to continue to work, the seizures were uncontrollable, and I went on medical leave in November 2000. A seizure caused me to drive my car onto someone's lawn, missing the house by a mere 6 inches. Needless to say, I was no longer allowed to drive.

Given the troubles I was having, I had hired a male live in housekeeper, who was also a Nurse Aide at my job. I thought he was trustworthy, but I was wrong. In mid-December, I had a mild stroke and several seizures, which left me helpless. He decided to care for me at home. As I started to recover, I called my sister back in Massachusetts. She convinced me to call 911. That night my whole family drove to Philadelphia. After seeing me in the hospital, they went to my house and found that overnight, I had been robbed. I also had some vague memories of sexual misconduct. The Special Victim's Unit issued a warrant for my housekeeper. My family decided to bring me back to Massachusetts. I was in no condition to argue.

At Beth Israel Hospital, I ended up on the locked Psychiatric Unit for 10 days because I told the doctor I was suicidal (given all the recent problems). With no professional rehabilitation, my voice did return to normal, but my speech was still slow and slurred. I taught myself to walk a little better, and my grip improved enough to sign my name right. They referred me to outpatient psychiatry, a day program, a new medical doctor, and I was to stay with my sister's family in Milton. My new medical doctor was terrific. She referred me to a wonderful neurologist. Unfortunately, the neurologist determined that I had developed Parkinson's Disease on top of all my other conditions.

I returned to Philadelphia to collect more things, but I had another seizure; and, this time, I returned to my mother's house in Winthrop. I was transferred to a new day program in East Boston and new medical providers. Even though my speech and walking improved, I was again hospitalized, near death, and diagnosed with a rare, but treatable disorder. I applied for and received independent housing in Winthrop. The day program arranged for a car to transport me to and from the program, so I was able to go grocery shopping nearby and bring the food home a little at a time. It was a big part of gaining my independence.

"But I can still make a difference..."

Then in April 2002, my apartment caught fire. I lost everything but my kitchen table and the clothes that I was washing across the street. I was given a new apartment. The Red Cross helped me get some new furniture, but all my mementos from Philadelphia and here were gone. I was hospitalized twice in May with PTSD. We also found that I had arthritis in my spine and hip. It was a long road out of that depression, but slowly, with coordinated treatment, I began to rebuild. I outgrew the need for the Day Program. I applied for volunteer work instead, but there was going to be a problem with shopping since I would no longer be going to East Boston. That's when the idea of contacting MRC came in. It would solve two problems; getting the shopping done, and cut down the need for narcotics since I wouldn't have to struggle to do the house cleaning.

"Because someone is making a difference for me."

Now with my MRC-HCAP homemaker, I have maintained my independence. My pain level has greatly improved. I volunteer 3 times a week at a nursing home nearby. I'm helping the elderly and thereby maintaining my mental health because I feel useful again. I don't have to impose upon my elderly mother to run to the store every week. She and my sister support me in other ways. My medical conditions are progressive, but for now I still do as much as I can for myself at home. It's a great comfort to know that as my needs do change, MRC-HCAP will be there for me.

Consumer Resources

National Multiple Sclerosis Society- New England Chapter

Submitted by Katherine Chesebro

The National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society, a leader in advancing the cure, prevention and treatment of Multiple Sclerosis, offers a New England Chapter serving Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Whether you have been newly diagnosed with MS or have been managing MS for some time, you will find helpful information from your local MS Society Chapter. The National MS Society provides a number of services such as information and referral, publications, educational programs, counseling, equipment and home modifications, self-help, advocacy, legal referral, respite care, financial assistance, pen pals, and research.

MRC-HCAP has just learned of a new program offered by the MS Society known as Home Links (Live Independently Navigating Key Services) for individuals with MS who are having difficulty accessing services independently. Home Links provides more comprehensive "hands-on" assistance by helping people navigate referral services, financial assistance programs, education and support programs, and accessing public supports and health insurance.

The program also has limited funding for air conditioners, occupational and physical therapy, short-term individual or family counseling, chore services, scholarships to participate in chapter programs, durable medical equipment, home modifications, respite care, medical expenses and emergency assistance.

For more information about the National MS Society's New England Chapter services and the Home Links program, please call 1-800-493-9255 or visit www.msnewengland.org

Helpful Hints

Helpful Household Hints

¨ For quick and inexpensive clean up, fill a spray bottle with half water and half ammonia. This will clean well and kill germs.

¨ The basic ingredients in commercial spot removers is 2 parts water to 1 part rubbing alcohol.

¨ One of the best things to use to clean computers, telephones, or any other devices is plain old white vinegar.

Weatherization: Sources of Air Leaks in Your Home

You can save 10% or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home. One of the quickest dollar-saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal, and weatherstrip all seams, cracks, and openings to the outside.

Recipe

Whole Wheat Banana Bread: 4-8 servings (2 loaves)

Substitutions like raisins for nuts make this low fat banana bread a treat!

4 medium ripe bananas 1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla 2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt

1/3 cup canola oil 1/2 cup egg substitute

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 cup golden raisins

1and 1/4 cup brown sugar 1 teaspoon baking soda

¨ Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray glass loaf pans (2 - 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5) with cooking oil spray.

¨ Mix flour, soda, salt and stir in mashed bananas and remaining ingredients. Blend well. Pour into loaf pans.

¨ Bake 50-60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire rack for 5-8 minutes. Remove from loaf pans and cool completely. Slice and serve. Wrap with plastic wrap to keep moist.

Nutrition Facts Per Serving
71 calories
2g Fat
1g Protein
13g Carbohydrate
1g Dietary Fiber
Trace Cholesterol
79mg Sodium

Inspirational Thought

Submitted by Angela Cipriano
Dreams are part of our heart and soul
Our dreams go to the depths of our thoughts,
Wants, and needs to fulfill our destiny.
In order to fulfill our destiny we must fulfill our dreams.

[J.R. Davis, 1994]

Mitt Romney
GOVERNOR

Kerry Healey
LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Ronald Preston
SECRETARY

Elmer C. Bartels
COMMISSIONER

John A. Chappell, Jr.
DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, COMMUNITY SERVICES


This information is provided by the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission.