NorthernBridges cuts into long-term care waiting listsIt was ten years between phone calls. In 1999, Mary Updike was a hospital social worker when she put one of her patients on a waiting list for long-term care.
By: For the Superior Telegram, Superior Telegram
It was ten years between phone calls. In 1999, Mary Updike was a hospital social worker when she put one of her patients on a waiting list for long-term care.
The woman, who was physically disabled, needed help to manage her household chores, assistance with bathing and personal care, and get to and from medical appointments.
“Back then, she was eligible for the county’s Community Options Program … but there was a waiting list to get services,” said Updike. “We had been told a 12- to 24-month wait. Never would I have thought it would be 10 years.”
Updike’s patient was put on the waiting list because the county had reached its limit for the number of people it could afford to help.
Today, ten years later, Mary Updike works for NorthernBridges, a publicly funded organization created to deliver the state’s Family Care benefit to 11 northwest Wisconsin counties.
Family Care helps low-income elderly and adults with disabilities stay in their own homes or communities. The cost savings from keeping people in their own homes, rather than in more expensive care facilities, and managing resources over 11 counties will make it possible for waiting lists to disappear. Though that won’t happen overnight, it will happen. NorthernBridges will take a waiting list of 1,193, transferred to them from 11 counties last spring, down to zero by 2013. A total of 230 have been removed so far.
“When I called to welcome her as a new member to NorthernBridges and Family Care, she said she remembered that I was the one that put her on the waiting list 10 years ago,” recalled Updike. “I said that I remembered her as well and that I was really pleased she could finally get the help she needed.”
Members of NorthernBridges are the center of a care team that includes a nurse, social worker and any other friend or family the member chooses. Together, the team determines a member’s health and life goals. To support those goals, NorthernBridges works with local providers to deliver services that members need to remain as independent as possible.
“What are the odds that I would be the one to put this woman on the waiting list and then welcome her off that list 10 years later?” Updike asked. “I know how gratifying it is for us to make these calls. I can only imagine what it’s like for our members after such a long, long wait to get that call.”
To become a NorthernBridges member, people must first visit their county Aging and Disability Resource Center. The center will determine if individuals are eligible for Family Care or a variety of other support services.
To contact the ADRC Douglas County office, call (866) 946-2372 (ADRC). To find out more about NorthernBridges, go to http://northernbridges.com.