DATELINE: PLYMOUTH COUNTY AND AVON; EASTON AND STOUGHTON, MA…More than 1,000 seniors are on the Home Care wait list for services thanks to state budget cuts already incurred this year in the elderly home care program. Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) of Brockton, one of 27 private, non-profit Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts explained that the waiting list was imposed on September 8th and forty one days later, more than 1,000 people are waiting. Mass Home Care says that cuts already implemented will push the waiting list up to as many as 6,000 people by the end of June 2010.
Cutbacks this year have already been made to the Home Care and Enhanced Community Options programs. These programs are essential because they help seniors maintain their independence and enable them to live in the least restrictive setting, usually their own home.
“We are very disappointed over the large number of seniors who need home care and cannot get it. The typical home care client is an elder who needs help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, eating and/or walking. With cuts to home care, often their only other choice is a nursing home,” explained Diana DiGiorgi, Executive Director of OCES. As of today, due to the waiting list criteria, OCES is unable to provide services to approximately 100 elders.
“It is ironic that the door to nursing home care is wide open, but the door to home care has been slammed shut for hundreds of seniors,” said Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care.
Based on the 2006 “Equal Choice” law that Mass Home Care wrote, seniors and individuals with disabilities are supposed to be given a choice of where they wish to receive services – at home or in an institution; most people prefer their own home. Because of these budget cuts, many seniors now have the choice of nursing home care or a waiting list.
Norman added, “The hits we’ve already received have a taken a toll on very vulnerable seniors. It’s fiscally short-sighted to cut the programs that keep people out of the more expensive levels of care. In a budget crunch, this is precisely the time to keep home care open, and divert people away from institutions.”
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) is one of 27 private, non-profit Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES touches the lives of approximately 16,000 people a year. They have 140 employees and operate 20 programs serving elders, their families and caregivers.
OCES serves elders, their families and caregivers in the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.
The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent
unnecessary or premature institutionalization.
For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org.