More seniors to benefit from restructured home-help program

MANISTEE – The seeds of a popular Manistee County Council on Aging (MCCOA) home-help program could soon bear fruit that will serve a greater number of seniors.

“The Council on Agency is trying to maximize our millage dollars to benefit as many seniors as possible in Manistee County,” said MCCOA Executive Director Sarah Howard.

Howard said three times the number of county seniors might be served through the restructured program, for the same amount of money it’s now costing the agency, which is about $12,000 a month.

In a nutshell, the agency will no longer use its own paid employees to go to the homes of the area seniors to clean, mow lawns, shovel snow, etc., but rather reimburse those seniors up to $40 a month to contract to have those services done.

The changes become effective June 1.

Of the four full-time workers who provided such services, one home-help worker is being moved into the agency’s office to do work there, while the second home-help worker will no longer be employed.

“The lady who no longer will be working for the MCCOA can continue to help clients and continue to do the same services, but on her own now,” Howard said.

Both chore workers – those who cut lawns, shoveled snow, etc. – left the agency earlier and their positions will not be refilled.

“Seniors can use anyone they feel comfortable with to do the services,” Howard said. “They may use a neighbor, a friend, a family member or a business – anyone. The funds can be used for any service that will benefit the needs of the particular senior – yard work, housekeeping, transportation, cleaning the garage, shopping and more.”

Bob Daniels, president of the MCCOA Board of Directors, said about 100 seniors have used the home-help program in the past.

“We believe that by restructuring our program, by having our seniors seek out their own help, and then receive reimbursement from us, and not using our own employees, we might be able to help 300 or seniors, or more, during any given month.”

Daniels said the senior home-help program has been the agency’s largest cost from month-to-month, requiring just under one-third of its approximate $330,000 annual budget.

“All we’re trying to do is to help and to serve as many of our seniors as we can,” Daniels said. “With this restructuring we think we’ll be able to take a good program, and turn in into an even better one, because it will end up serving many more seniors, for about the same costs.”

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Posted by David L. Barber

David L. Barber is the retired editor of the Manistee News Advocate. He contributes columns weekly for the News Advocate. You can contact him at dlbarber1006@gmail.com.

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