Innovative ramp program helps elderly return homeWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
On May 23, Shelian Beaupre sat down to talk with her husband, Allen, over a cup of hot cocoa in his nursing home’s common room.
Allen knew he would be able to leave the nursing home soon, but Shelian quietly told him it was time to pack his belongings.
“He looked at me and said, ‘This is no joke is it?’” Shelian recalled.
With tears rolling down her cheeks, she told him, “No.” He looked into his hot chocolate and said, “Let’s blow this Popsicle stand,” triggering cheers and applause from the nursing home residents around him.
Shelian beamed as she recounted that story from her living room in Bowling Green, months after she finally got her husband home. A triple bypass heart surgery had landed Allen in the nursing home for seven months. Desperate for him to be home before their anniversary, the pair ran into a number of obstacles.
One obstacle was the stairs he’d have to climb each day to enter or leave the house. Allen had trouble walking and would need a ramp installed in order to get around.
Medicaid will cover the cost to modify a home through PASSPORT, a waiver program that links homebound seniors to long-term care services. But seniors cannot participate in PASSPORT while they live in a nursing home and thus cannot receive a PASSPORT-covered ramp until they are discharged from their nursing facility.
This can sometimes create a trap for people who want to leave the nursing home, but cannot until their homes are modified, said Justin Moor, spokesperson for the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio.
“It does not make sense and it’s something that needs to be addressed at the federal level,” Moor said.
In response, the Area Office on Aging started working with The Ability Center in 2011 to install temporary ramps at seniors’ homes before they leave the nursing home. That way, individuals can leave the nursing home and start the paperwork to get a Medicaid-covered permanent ramp installed.
With a $17,000 grant from the Northwest Ohio Area Office on Aging Foundation, the local program has brought eight seniors home from nursing facilities by installing the temporary ramps. The seniors use the ramps for at least a couple of months until their permanent ones, which cost about $2,300, are installed.
The average cost to Medicaid to live in a nursing home for one year is about $62,000. Living at home and using PASSPORT services costs about $20,000. About 70 percent of nursing home residents are on Medicaid.
The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging recently presented the Area Office on Aging of Northwest Ohio with a National Aging Achievement Award to recognize the innovative ramp program.
Marion Winnick has been staying at Heartland of Perrysburg for about nine months now, but the Area Office on Aging recently secured her a temporary ramp.
She’ll get to go home soon.
Winnick is wheelchair-bound and couldn’t move home until the ramp was installed. She said the Heartland staff do a fine job caring for her, but that she is ready to look after herself and — most importantly — start growing her own garden again.
Turnips, collard greens, kale, beans — you name it, Winnick has grown it — and being sequestered in a nursing home has left her reminiscing about her home cooking.
“I’m ready to run!” she said.