Below are the full success and client stories from the Clinton County Elderly Services Program (ESP) 2022 Annual Report. These stories illustrate the impact ESP has on older adults and caregivers in Clinton County.
Council on Aging grows provider network in Clinton County
One of Council on Aging’s (COA) roles as administrator of the Elderly Services Program (ESP) in Clinton County is to contract with qualified service providers to deliver the services clients enrolled in the program need in order to remain independent in their homes.
Because the Elderly Services Program is funded with county tax dollars, COA must competitively bid the services provided through the program. This is a lengthy process that begins by issuing a request for proposals (RFP) for a specific service. Once qualified bidders have been accepted and contracts have been issued, COA is responsible for ongoing management of each provider to ensure they are providing high-quality services that align with the program’s rules and specifications.
Alternatively, in emergency situations (which are becoming more common), COA can secure permission from county commissioners to recruit new providers to the program outside of the traditional RFP process.
In 2022, COA utilized both options to increase the number of homecare providers in the county.
In July 2022, Council on Aging issued an RFP to provide home care assistance services to clients enrolled in Clinton County ESP. This was a change in the program, combining the existing services of homemaking, personal care, companion and respite services into a bundled service called home care assistance.
As a result of this change, one new provider joined the program. However, in September 2022, a large provider in the county gave notice to COA that they would be terminating their contract to provide home care assistance services effective Nov. 30. At the time of the termination notice, this provider served approximately 80 ESP clients, accounting for 40 percent of homemaking services delivered through the Elderly Services Program.
Council on Aging’s Provider Services team began the immediate work of helping to transition impacted clients to new providers and also set out to bring more providers into the network.
As a result of these efforts, Clinton County now has a total of six home care assistance providers serving older adults enrolled in the Elderly Services Program. And, every client impacted by the contract termination that occurred in November was successfully transferred to a new provider with minimal service disruption.
“I have a passion for helping providers successfully onboard because I know in the end, our clients are the ones who benefit. I don’t want our clients to go without services,” said Monica Schulze, a business relations partner in COA’s Provider Services department.
At a time when many older adults in southwestern Ohio and across the state are experiencing disruptions or delays in their homecare services because of a national workforce shortage, older adults enrolled in the Clinton County Elderly Services Program can quickly be matched with a service provider to ensure their needs are met.
“Our Provider Services team is focused on building positive relationships with businesses in the community that can help us meet the needs of the older adults we serve,” said Ken Wilson, Council on Aging’s vice president of program operations. “Because of the focus on relationship-building, our provider network becomes invested in our mission to help older adults live independently in the community. And, there’s the added benefit of helping businesses get established and grow in the community,” Wilson said.
Creative solutions help meet common needs of older adults
Most older adults want to remain independent in their homes for as long as possible. But for one reason or another, many older adults are reluctant to accept help or support that could prolong their independence.
Council on Aging, ESP’s administrator, works with the Clinton County Elderly Services Advisory Council to identify and implement creative ways to help ESP clients get the support they need to remain independent in their homes.
Because of health and safety concerns, many older adults enrolled in ESP need hands-on assistance with everyday tasks such as cleaning and laundry. But in other cases, if given the proper tools, ESP clients can safely manage these tasks on their own, increasing their sense of independence.
For example, COA recently expanded the equipment available through ESP’s Durable Medical Equipment service to include adaptive cleaning supplies such as lightweight cordless mops and vacuums, and laundry carts.
“In the same way grab bars or a ramp can help an older adult be more independent and prevent an accident or injury at home, a lightweight vacuum or a laundry cart can also be a safe and cost-effective way to help them experience a greater sense of independence,” said Ken Wilson, COA’s vice president of program operations.
For clients who are physically able and prefer to do light housekeeping and laundry on their own, the equipment helps them meet a daily need, while also gaining a sense of independence. The adaptive cleaning supplies were first made available to ESP clients in May, with 18 clients receiving supplies through the end of the year.
Wilmington resident feels secure thanks to ESP and Council on Aging
For 68-year-old Wilmington resident Mary, laughter is medicinal. She has a big smile and a cheery demeanor, despite chronic pain that threatens her quality of life.
Mary suffers from advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, which causes shortness of breath and fatigue while doing everyday activities. For the tasks she struggles with, Clinton County Elderly Services Program (ESP) steps in.
“I started to have a lot of problems taking care of very basic things, like getting groceries, showering, and cleaning my home, so I knew I needed help,” Mary says.
With the severity of my condition, I was afraid to reach out to just anybody for help. Council on Aging gave me assurance that I’d be safe in their care. They’ve never made me feel inferior or like I’m a problem.”Mary, ESP client
ESP serves Mary by providing her with home-delivered meals, transportation, homemaking, and personal care. As a result, she is able to maintain a sense of independence that brings her great joy.
“It’s very important for me to stay in my home,” she says. “This way, I have the freedom to live how I want and spend time with my cats.”
Mary’s cats, Tilly and Pumpkin Marie, are always by her side. She has a deep love of animals and kept horses on her property for several years.
In her everyday life, you’ll find Mary sitting in her recliner, reminiscing about the pets she’s taken care of and good times with her son and grandchildren. She enjoys laughing with her friends and neighbors and has a passion for Disney World.
“The staff at Council on Aging has shown me a lot of kindness and compassion,” Mary says. “The service provided by the caregivers has been really wonderful for me.”
ESP helps Clinton County residents live life on their own terms
90-year-old Clinton County resident Polly likes to compare her life to the Western movies she loved as a kid. As she gets older, she knows there’s something glorious on the horizon.
“I like to imagine that I’m riding off into the sunset,” she says. “I don’t know my destination, but I know I’m headed somewhere bright.”
Though her approach to aging is optimistic, a broken hip, a torn rotator cuff and several joint fractures from a breast cancer diagnosis in 1995 impact Polly’s ability to complete household tasks. With the help of the Clinton County Elderly Services Program (ESP), she’s able to live independently despite her physical setbacks.
One day each week, her home health aide Brianna steps in to assist with cleaning and maintaining her Wilmington home.
“I’m very grateful for Brianna’s help,” Polly says. “She’s able to do the things that I can’t do, so I can spend more time doing things I enjoy.”
As you look around her house, tokens of Polly’s favorite activities catch your eye.
Her living room table is adorned with bottle cap trivets she crochets by hand, and on her walls you’ll find a wreath made from toilet paper roll tubes cut and formed into a geometric pattern.
“I love to create,” Polly says. “I spend a lot of time adjusting little details on my projects. It’s important to make things that really speak to you.”
When she’s not making art to give to her friends as gifts, Polly likes to tend to the flowers and tomatoes in her garden, or catch up with her children and grandchildren on the phone.
She also takes pride in giving back to her community, something she has achieved by serving as a hospice volunteer for the past 20 years.
“With help from Council on Aging, I’m able to live a good life that makes me happy,” Polly says. “I don’t have to worry about the small problems that I used to have. It’s a great relief to know that you have people looking out for you.”