Meetcaregivers Gives Back Hundreds of Free Home Care Hours to Local Seniors

Meetcaregivers, an innovative, Massachusetts-based, home care company is giving away hundreds of hours of free home care services to seniors in needs or to families who need help caring for their aging parents during this holidays season.

Meetcaregivers was a finalist in PULSE@MassChallenge, a digital healthcare accelerator in Boston. The company matches seniors with caregivers. Their platform has video profiles of pre-screened caregivers to make it easier for families to find the perfect match for their aging parents. Meetcaregivers also has a care portal that families can use to easily track and coordinate the care of their loved ones.  The care portal also lets caregivers know about the senior’s conditions ahead of time.

Florence Furaha, the co-founder and CEO says that Meetcaregivers has received a lot of support from many local organizations such as MassChallenge and EforAll when they started the company. “As we continue to grow and service seniors, we want to make sure that we also give back to our communities.”

“We know that home care is expensive for many families. We try to make it as affordable as possible at Meetcaregivers by charging an average of $20-$25 per hour depending of the type of care that is needed. However, these rates can still be too much for many seniors who cannot afford it. We often talk and meet with seniors who need the care or could really use a companion to just keep them company or take them out for a walk, but they do not have the finances to hire a caregiver.”

With Meetcaregivers free home care program for the holidays, seniors can get at least four hours of free home care to assist them with daily activities such as bathing, housekeeping, feeding, and transportation during the holiday season without having to worry about money.  This care will also give their children, who are usually their family caregivers, a break.

“It’s our way of giving back, and our goal is to continue to find ways to give back to our communities, said Furaha. “The holiday season is a great time to start and make a difference.”

For more information, contact Meetcaregivers at 1-888-541-1136 or info@meetcaregivers.com.

Meetcaregivers Piloting New Care Portal

father_son_tablet-web

Sometimes people who hire caregivers feel as if they aren’t doing enough to help their aging parents. Perhaps they wish that the caregiver process was more interactive or that they could have more control over the process. That’s where our care portal comes in.

The Meetcaregivers care portal is an online app that helps families stay connected and involved in their loved one’s care. Using our care portal, clients who may not have the time to check up on their loved ones in person can easily track the senior’s care and well-being online. For example, if a client wants to know whether the senior is being cared for at the moment, he or she will be able to see whether the caregiver is clocked in or clocked out. Some clients may worry whether their loved one is taking his or her medication regularly. With the care portal, clients will be able to work with a care coordinator to create a customized care plan for their loved one and set daily tasks for caregivers to complete. After completing a set task, such as reminding the senior to take medication, caregivers will mark the task as completed on the care portal. Clients can be reassured that their loved one is in good hands, simply by checking the care portal. Furthermore, clients can set specific one-time tasks. Perhaps the senior has a doctor’s appointment scheduled on Friday or wants to go to the hair salon on Saturday. Clients can remind the caregiver about the appointment using the care portal.

Another worry that clients may have is that their caregiver doesn’t know enough about the senior. For clients with multiple caregivers, this can be a serious problem, as new caregivers need to be informed of medical conditions such as asthma or allergies. Information about medical conditions, food preferences, and hobbies can all be recorded on the care portal, so that the caregiver can quickly get to know the needs of the client. For clients with specific needs, caregivers can also record health metrics such as blood pressure and weight onto the care portal. These health metrics can be accessed by family and other authorized care team members to monitor the well-being of the senior.

Often clients and caregivers do not have the time or opportunity to directly communicate. With the notes function of the care portal, caregivers will give daily updates and report back to the client. Perhaps the senior wasn’t feeling well that day and didn’t have a good appetite. If the situation isn’t serious enough to warrant a phone call, caregivers can simply record it in the notes section, for the client to view at leisure.

We hope that this new technology will connect clients and caregivers more closely, reducing stress for families and providing better care for seniors at home.

Eight Signs that your Loved One May Need Help at Home

Assessing Your Loved One’s Needs

Have you started to wonder if it is time to hire someone to take care of an aging loved one at home? There are several signs to look for to indicate when the need for care arises.

Apart from aging, the senior may become forgetful, lonely, fearful, unsteady, poor at hygiene, or they may lose appetite or interest in what matters to them most. If your loved one seems to be having any of these symptoms, it could be time to hire a caregiver.

Have you noticed…

  1. Memory Loss or Reduced Mental Ability
  • Isn’t sure what to say in conversations
  • Forgets dates and misses appointments and commitments
  • Misses stop signs or gets lost when driving
  • Shows poor judgement or decision-making
  1. Incontinence
  • Has frequent leaks
  • Has occasional accidents
  1. Loss of Interest in What Matters to Them
  • Hardly wants to participate in the activities they love most
  • Is isolated and keeps to him or herself
  • Feels lonely or depressed
  1. Change in Eating Habits
  • Has experienced weight loss or weight gain
  • Seldom cooks like before
  • Eats too little, or eats too much unhealthy food
  1. Medication Irregularities
  • Misses medication
  • Takes the wrong medication
  1. Poor Hygiene
  • Wears dirty clothes.
  • Isn’t bathing regularly
  • Is not tending to proper oral hygiene
  1. Instability or Reduced Mobility
  • Is unsteady or off balance
  • Has experienced a recent fall
  • Is not getting in and out of bed, dressing, bathing, or walking like before
  • Is not getting recommended physical exercise
  1. Difference in Sleeping Patterns
  • Sleeps excessively
  • Stays awake in the night
  • Walks around the house at night
  • Is showing signs of fatigue

If some of these symptoms sound familiar, the first step is to consult a doctor to understand the causes and get appropriate treatment. If the symptoms are ongoing, it doesn’t mean that you need to relocate your loved one to a nursing home or assisted living. Home care workers can help your loved one with all of these activities and more, while providing companionship and support for them, and peace of mind for you. If you think it’s time for help, give us a call and we can talk you through your options and next steps.

Is It Time To Hire a Caregiver?

So you recently visited your mom or dad and noticed a few things weren’t quite right. Perhaps it was the empty fridge or unpaid bills lying on the table or the unusually excessive pile of dirty laundry or maybe it was the fact that they haven’t had a bath in months. Whatever the case, you no doubt left thinking “ok, I think it is time to hire a caregiver for mom and dad!”.

So what are the signs? Here are 12 tell-tale signs you may notice from your loved one:

  1. Becomes lost when driving in familiar areas but still insists on driving.
  2. Forgets to pay bills, something he or she was managing pretty well.
  3. Not recognizing the need to schedule necessary repairs around the house.
  4. Forgets or not recognizing the need to pick up mail.
  5. The trash is not disposed of.
  6. Not seeing the need to cook meals or misses to eat their meals. Outdated food is left in the refrigerator or in the cabinets for too long.
  7. Forgetting or not realizing the need to take care of personal hygiene such as wearing the same clothes daily, urine odor or poor oral hygiene.
  8. Forgetting to take medications and sometimes missing doses or overdosing by mistake. At times they call you to ask which medication they are supposed to take.
  9. Complete lack of interest in doing laundry or keeping the house clean.
  10. Has had a few falls and is unsteady on his/her feet. Going up the stairs becomes very difficult.
  11. Likes to sleep for long periods of time and is no longer interested in visiting friends and family or running usual errands or just reluctant to leave the house.
  12. Sometimes you notice the stove is left turned on and they do not exhibit the appropriate response for emergency situations.

You can start by actively looking for the signs. The danger with being passive is that the care that is eventually put in place (after a fall or hospitalization) may be done in a rush and has the potential of triggering a downward spiral on their health based on many different factors. Finding the right caregiver for any care need is vital in the healing process.

The Heart of a Caregiver

While working as a caregiver in college and now as the managing director of Meetcaregivers, I have had the opportunity to meet and speak to many caregivers. I have a lot of respect for their work and who they are as individuals. Most caregivers choose this career because they like caring for people and are very compassionate. It’s certainly not the type of work that you do to become rich. They do it because they like to provide daily assistance to seniors or individuals with disabilities. They want to make a difference in someone’s life.

Caregivers become like extended family members for many seniors. They assist them during a very sensitive moment in their lives. In addition to helping with daily activities such as bathing, bathroom functions, feeding, grooming, taking medication, and some housework, caregivers can also provide emotional support and companionship to many seniors. I was very close to all the seniors that I worked with. It’s a very rewarding experience to see that your work positively impacts someone’s life and makes their life easier or happier. It’s not an easy job like some people think. I always say, “Not everybody can be a caregiver.” It takes a special person to be a caregiver.

People often ask me what it takes to be a good caregiver. What type of training do I need to get? My answer is that it’s certainly very important to be a CNA (certified nursing assistant), HHA (home health aide), and learn how to work with individuals with dementia, Alzheimer, Parkinson’s diseases. However, in addition to that, it’s very important to really be a caring person, a people person, to be patient and reliable.

During our screening process at Meetcaregivers, we look for caregivers with experience but who are also passionate about their work and understand the responsibilities that come with being a caregiver. We are not a job board where anyone can sign up. We want to go above and beyond to make sure that the caregivers in our network are individuals that we would hire to work for our own family members. I always tell our care recruiters that if you are screening a caregiver that you feel like you wouldn’t hire for your own aging mother or grandparents, then that person should not be in our network.

If you know a great caregiver looking to work with seniors or individuals with disabilities, please send them our way. If you are looking for an excellent caregiver for your loved one, please reach out. We are here to connect you with experienced and caring caregivers.

Free Home Care in Massachusetts

They say the best things in life are free, and in some cases that includes home care services.

Did you know that in Massachusetts the Executive Office of Elder Affairs provides free or subsidized home care services to 45,000 elders each month? These services are provided through twenty seven local Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) serving communities across Massachusetts. Subsidies are determined based on income level but, unlike Medicaid, assets such as savings or property are not a factor in determining eligibility.

The ASAPs provide case management, assess individual needs and eligibility for the program, and contract with other agencies and organizations to provide a wide variety of services for seniors 60 years or older, or individuals under 60 with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and in need of respite services.

The program provides services based on functional impairment levels and critical unmet needs, including help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, continence, transferring, and mobility.

Homemaker, companion, personal care, supportive home care aides, and home health are among the available services. Seniors may be able to get help with laundry, chores, transportation, home delivered meals, grocery shopping/delivery, medical transportation, and medication dispensing. The program also can help fund supportive day care, dementia day care, and day health programs as well as respite care to provide relief for family caregivers. If you or your loved one needs personal emergency response, a wanderer locator, adaptive housing/equipment, vision rehabilitation, habilitation therapy, behavioral health counseling, or even emergency shelter, the ASAP in your area should be your first call.

For 2015, income guidelines require Annual Gross Income less than $26,561 for a single person and $37,581 for a couple, but if your income exceeds these levels it’s worth calling to see what income should be counted. MassHealth members are financially eligible. The income limits rise every year by the Social Security cost of living allowance. For details on income levels and co-payment amounts, go to MassGov

Meetcaregivers is working with the ASAPS to help families connect with these services. Contact Meetcaregivers at info@Meetcaregivers.com or visit our website, www.meetcaregivers.com. You can also reach the ASAP in your area through the Massachusetts Home Care program, just call 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636) from your home phone and press one. You will be connected with the ASAP in your zip code area. Or visit www.800ageinfo.com and click on “Find your regional Elder Care Agency.”

Meetcaregivers One of 128 Most Promising Startups Selected for MassChallenge 2015 Accelerator in Boston

Meetcaregivers, Inc., a Newton-based startup helping families find in-home caregivers for their aging loved ones at up to 50% less than the cost of traditional agencies, will gain access to expert mentors and industry resources as part of the robust startup community participating in the four-month MassChallenge 2015 accelerator program in Boston this summer. The company joins a group of 128 finalists in Boston selected from more than 1,600 applicants. The finalist companies will compete for more than $1.75 million in cash awards and more than $10 million in-kind support.

“We are excited to have been selected to participate in MassChallenge 2015,” said Florence Furaha, Meetcaregivers CEO. “We are ready to scale and are confident that participating in MassChallenge will help us gain the contacts, visibility, and support we need to grow the business and help more seniors age at home.”

Chosen as one of 28 startups in the “social impact” category in Boston, Meetcaregivers is helping to make it easier and more affordable for the growing senior population to age in the comfort of their own home rather than move to an assisted living facility or nursing home. The company is also helping caregivers find independent work assignments and earn better wages than what they would typically make working for a traditional home healthcare agency.

About Meetcaregivers:
Meetcaregivers.com uses online and video technology to help families safely find and connect with qualified caregivers for their aging loved ones at up to 50% less than the cost of traditional agencies. Families can go to www.meetcaregivers.com and watch one to three-minute videos of caregivers in their area talking about their experience, skills, background and availability. The videos help families get to know the caregivers before scheduling interviews. Easier and safer than job boards such as Craigslist and Care.com, Meetcaregivers pre-screens the caregivers and handles payments and insurance, so families never have to worry.

About MassChallenge:
MassChallenge runs startup accelerators designed to catalyze a global renaissance by connecting high-impact startups with the resources they need to launch and succeed. Anyone can apply to MassChallenge, with any early-stage startup, in any industry, from anywhere in the world. MassChallenge does not take equity or place any restrictions on the startups it supports.

With programs in Boston, Israel and the UK, MassChallenge provides entrepreneurs with mentorship, office space, education, access to a vast network, and other resources during four months of acceleration. MassChallenge awards over $1.75 million in non-dilutive grants to the startups demonstrating the highest impact and highest potential. A nonprofit organization, MassChallenge is funded by corporate, public and foundation partners. To date, the 617 MassChallenge alumni have raised over $950 million in funding, generated $486 million in revenue and created 5,104 jobs. For more information, visit www.masschallenge.org.

Top MassChallenge Boston partners include: Jamestown, Fidelity Investments, Verizon, the Richard and Susan Smith Family Foundation, CASIS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, The Deshpande Foundation, The Biscay Government, The Boston Foundation, Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston, Bühler, American Airlines, Boehringer Ingelheim, Bose, EMC, Henkel, iNNpulsa Colombia, Microsoft, PepsiCo, Pfizer, Smith & Nephew, Thomson Reuters, Turnstone, WGBH Boston, UMass Amherst, and Zapopan.

For more information, visit www.meetcaregivers.com, call 1-888-541-1136 or e-mail info@Meetcaregivers.com.

The Challenges of Self-Directed Home Care

Self-directed home care refers to the ability of seniors and people with illnesses or disabilities to choose and control their own home care providers, including having the decision-making authority to recruit, hire, train, and supervise individual caregivers.

For those receiving assistance in Massachusetts through the MassHealth/Medicaid PCA program or Massachusetts Department of Elder Affairs Home Care program, consumers have the right to self-direction. They can hire their own caregivers and receive services, paid by the Commonwealth, to help them get set up as household employers with the IRS and Department of Revenue. Fiscal intermediaries help them obtain workers compensation insurance and handle employer responsibilities such as managing payroll, withholding taxes, and paying into the unemployment insurance system. Even with these supports, though, the challenges of being an employer and withholding and filing taxes correctly can be daunting, particularly at tax time.

People self-directing their care on these programs also often receive little help with finding qualified, pre-screened caregivers. They can access a list of potential caregivers with contact information, but they are mostly on their own to make calls, screen caregivers, and determine which potential caregivers are qualified, will be a good fit, and are willing to work for the wages allowed by these programs. The process can be time consuming and stressful.

We get calls regularly from seniors and people with disabilities who are looking to select and manage their own caregivers through these public assistance programs, but need help finding the right person who has the necessary skills and qualifications and is willing to work for the wages allowed. Currently the available self-directed programs do not have processes in place to pay for our services –even though the overall cost would be less than when using a full service agency.

Families that need additional hours beyond those provided through state programs, however, can benefit from the convenience and cost savings of selecting their caregivers from our network of qualified, pre-screened PCAs, home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and homemakers.

With Meetcaregivers, families get maximum choice and control and can direct their own care without the hassles, complexities, and long term commitments that come with being set up as a household employer. Families that choose self-direction can quickly and easily find pre-screened, qualified caregivers. They can hire, fire, train, schedule, and supervise their own caregivers, but avoid the hassles and complexities of directly employing the caregivers or worrying about insurance and tax withholdings. And they can still save significant money off the cost of a traditional full service agency.

We are hoping to work with Department of Elder Affairs to make this option a reality for families choosing self-direction through publicly funded programs.

The Power of Self-Directed Home Care

Finding home care can be a stressful process – especially after a fall, surgery, or other incident when nerves are on edge and families need to find and agree on a solution fast. Hospitals and rehabilitation centers have outplacement counselors who can help, but they are often carrying a large workload and may not take the time to really listen to individual needs and preferences or offer a variety of options for care. In fact, many hospitals own their own homecare companies, or work with a few preferred home care partners. It is easier, and sometimes financially in the organization’s best interest, to direct patients to the same tried and true home care agencies, rather than offering a variety of different, potentially less expensive options.

When my eighty-four-year-old father had cardiac by-pass surgery, the hospital gave him the name of a visiting nurse association to call for home care. He called the number and arranged for the services he needed. Only after he became very unhappy with the care he received did it occur to him that he might have a choice about the home health organization to use. He called his insurance company and found out that, yes, he did not have to use that company and could choose a provider he preferred.

There are two potential problems with this type of provider-directed approach to home care. 1.) Traditional home care agencies can be very expensive. If insurance isn’t covering the whole bill, families can quickly run out of money to pay for the care they need. 2.) Some people want more choice and control over their own care. They want to choose their individual caregivers, decide what level of care and services they need, and manage how and when their care is provided. Doing so allows them to feel more in control and ensures that their individual preferences and needs will be met.

Self-direction gives seniors and people with disabilities the power to choose to stay at home, decide what care they need, and select, hire, manage and fire their own caregivers or service providers as they see fit. Having more choice in their care helps them feel more in control and ensures that their individual preferences and needs will be met.

For those receiving services through Medicaid (MassHealth) or the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs Home Care program, consumers have the right to self-direction, and can receive services, paid by the Commonwealth, to help them get set up as employers, obtain worker compensation insurance, and handle payroll for the hours of care paid through the program.

If you are looking to reduce the cost of home care, or you would prefer to find, hire, and manage your own caregivers and their schedules, self-directed home care may be the right option for you. Be sure to ask about your options and know your rights.

For more information,
– contact your Aging Services Access Point at 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636) or
– visit Medicaid.Gov

Why Enroll Your Aging Parent in an Adult Day Program

Since we launched Meetcaregivers, we have met many families who are looking for solutions to enable their aging parents to stay at home as long as possible rather than moving them to a nursing home.

Many wonder how they can keep their loved one at home, but also still engaged with the outside world. Families can hire a caregiver through Meetcaregivers.com and still enroll their loved one in an adult day program for a few hours a day, one or two days per week. The day program will enable them to socialize with a group of people for a few hours and also receive dedicated, quality care and companionship with their private caregiver when they are at home.

Different day programs charge different rates. Prices typically range from $25 to $120 per day. Each day program has its own planned program of services and activities. These services may include exercising, education, counseling, socialization, medication management, recreation, transportation, meals and much more.

There are certainly many other ways that you can keep your parents engaged in the outside world. Caregivers can also accompany their clients to senior center activities, meals out with friends, shopping trips, or other outings and activities.

I am a big fan of day programs for seniors. They enable seniors to socialize with others but also provide the necessary care services and companionship at home. A senior doesn’t have to attend every day. You can work out a schedule that works best for you and your loved one.

For more information about adult day programs in Massachusetts visit www.800ageinfo.com and select “Search for services,” call 1-800-AGEINFO (1-800-243-4636), or contact your local senior center, council on aging, or Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) for your area.