Alternatives to Nursing Homes for Elders: In-Home Supportive Services

The numbers of low income elderly and/or disabled Californians who are choosing to stay in their homes rather than reside in institutions, including nursing homes, is on the rise due in part to the availability of a program called In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS).

caretaker-and-patient.jpgIHSS is a program in California which pays caregivers to help low-income elderly and disabled persons in their own homes, rather than placing the elder in a nursing home. While it may sound like a terrific option for elders who do not want to live in a residential facility, such as a nursing home, the IHSS program is not without its own problems.

Low income elderly or disabled persons are almost unanimously responsible for hiring, training and supervising their own caregivers, even though the caregivers are paid by the state. Most caregivers are family members or acquaintances of the elder, but many are not. Moreover, no formal training is required of caregivers, nor is there any regulated oversight in place to ensure that the IHSS caregiver is performing the duties they are being paid to perform. Some argue that this limited oversight puts elders at greater risk for abuse including financial abuse and/or neglect.

Signs that an elder is being abused by a caregiver include:

•Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, scrapes, cuts, burns
•Withdrawal from normal activities
•Depression
•Weight loss
•Anxiety
•Bedsores
•Poor hygiene
•Arguments or strained relationships between the caregiver and elderly person

If you or someone you love is over 65, or disabled and needs in-home help, it is crucial to choose the caregiver carefully. Helpful tips for hiring a care worker have been provided by AARP here. You can also learn more about the IHSS program by visiting the California State Department of Social Services website.

If you suspect that an elder you know is being abused in their own home, or in a facility such as a California nursing home, it is imperative that you speak up.

You may consider contacting:

•Your loved one’s doctor.
•Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program. They provide a 24/7 Crisis Complaint Hotline at 800-231-4024.
•Adult Protective Services (APS). In San Diego County, you may contact: San Diego County Aging and Independent Services (858) 495-5660, or the Eldercare Locator help line at 1-800-677-1116.
•Your Department of Public Health Licensing Office.
•Local Law Enforcement, including the Police, Sheriff, and District Attorney’s office. The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department can be reached at (858) 565-5200. The San Diego County District Attorney may be reached at 619-531-4040.

Christopher C. Walton was named to the 2014 Southern California Super Lawyer List, and also named a 2014 Top Attorney in San Diego, California. Walton Law, APC focuses its practice on nursing home abuse, elder abuse & neglect. If you believe you or somebody you know has been subjected to abuse or neglect while residing in a Southern California nursing home, contact Chris at (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.