North Carolina State Representative Zack Hawkins Experiences a Day in the Life of a Durham Veteran Receiving Support at Home

NC state representative Zack Hawkins (left) meets home care client Mr. Mendenhall (seated) and his wife

State Representative Zack Hawkins, an active supporter of home health care, recently visited with a Durham family who rely on services to stay safe at home.

Representative Hawkins visited with a constituent, Mr. Aubrey Mendenhall, an armed service Veteran with a wonderful sense of humor. As a young US Sargent in Germany, he saw the prettiest lady working at the base general PX store…and spent the next thirty days asking her out. Margarete finally agreed and they’ve been together for more than 65 years.

Some five years ago, Mr. Mendenhall was diagnosed with Dementia – a condition characterized by a decline in memory, language, problem-solving and other thinking skills that affect a person’s ability to perform everyday activities. His dementia makes it difficult for him to manage without constant supervision and puts him at a high risk of falling. A certified nursing assistant (CNA) comes to help him bathe, toilet, and dress. “The aide’s goal is to help Mr. Mendenhall stay as independent as possible. Make sure he doesn’t fall or get an infection that can put him in the hospital,” said BAYADA Home Health Care Clinical Manager Megan Russell, RN.  

The Department of Veterans Affairs covers 11 hours of aide services per week. Outside those 11 hours, Margarete is his constant companion and support. She uses the 1 ½ – 2 hour breaks she receives each day to perform other necessary tasks such as running to the grocery store, to a doctor’s appointment, or to simply have an uninterrupted cup of tea. It is her only break from caregiving. At 90 years old, dealing with her own health issues, and after five years of serving as Mr. Mendenhall’s primary caregiver, Margarete finds herself exhausted!

With tears in her eyes, their only daughter, Kathy, commented that she is considering quitting her job as a nurse and move in with her parents so that she can better manage their care. While carrying for a loved one with a chronic illness can be profoundly meaningful, it can also be overwhelming as the physical, emotional, financial tolls compound on the family caregivers.  

“Having personally been touched with seeing my mother and aunt provide care to my grandmother, I understand how important it is to be able to take care of one’s family,” said Representative Hawkins. “And as a lawmaker, we need to support seniors and their families. To ensure they can live a full life at home. Care at home is an important option, less expensive, and where people want to be.” 

According to AARP’s online article, Caregiver Burnout, “over time, that physical and psychological wear and tear can lead to caregiver burnout – a condition of feeling exhausted, listless and unable to cope.”  Russell has reached out to the VA case manager to explore respite care which would allow for the family some much needed breaks. The Mendenhalls want to stay together, however, they need some additional support to effectively care for themselves while maintaining their responsibility to their loved one.

“In-home care programs provide one-on-one care by licensed nurses or certified nursing assistants under the care of a physician,” said BAYADA Area Director Lee Dobson.  “They allow families to stay together and be safe at home. It really gives the state more for less and is clearly part of the health care budget solution.”

Aides Cried Tears of Joy for Much-deserved Raises throughout North Carolina’s Assistive Care State Programs Offices

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO) and Shannon McCarson, Regional Director, Dogwood Group (DOG)

We worked together and made it possible. After many years of advocating for higher reimbursement rates within the state Medicaid programs, we finally received an increase in the hourly rate for personal care services (PCS). This achievement was made possible through the persistent advocacy efforts of our employees, clients, families, and government affairs team. Our Hearts for Home Care Advocates participated in email campaigns, home visits, legislative roundtables, home care lobby days in Raleigh, and professional lobbying efforts.

As a result of working together, this week assistive care state programs directors throughout the state were thrilled to pass along an increase to our deserving CNAs and HHAs who care for our Medicaid clients and have stuck with us through thick and thin.

Directors have been personally speaking to staff to share the great news. “One by one, as I spoke to our aides, I heard the same thing – gratitude, appreciation, tears of joy, and, yes relief, too,” said Mimosa (MIM) Division Director Joe Seidel. “The low Medicaid reimbursement rate made it impossible to pay more. I am glad to do it now.” This rate increase is a good place to start, and more needs to be done.

Let’s keep the momentum going by joining to be a Hearts for Home Care Advocate. We believe our aides deserve even more for the important work they do in keeping our clients safe at home. If you are not already part of our advocacy group, join today at heartsforhomecare.com to receive alerts that could influence future efforts to increase pay rates.

 

Expanding Our Reach Through A NC Home Visit

Submitted by Lee Dobson, Area Director, NC Government Affairs (GAO)

When freshman NC Representative Andy Dulin expressed an interest in home health care, Charlotte Personal Care (CPC) Hearts for Home Care Ambassador and Client Service Manager Shayla Jemmott, and Clinical Manager Deborah Batts jumped into action. They hosted a home visit with CJ, a 24-year old young man with cerebral palsy, and his family. CJ’s mom explained how the three hours per day of certified nursing assistant services allows her to work and gives them a sense of peace knowing CJ is happy and healthy. Rep. Dulin asked great questions and was surprised to learn that the aide rate, at $13.88, is only $0.44 cents higher than back in 2001. He indicated he is willing to help us garner support for the increase.

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Representative Dulin with CJ