With older adults determined to live life independently in their homes and on their terms, an extra set of hands helps make this a reality. Jewish Family Services’ Help@Home program provides individuals more time to spend enjoying activities—leaving home repairs and household chores to others—while protecting them from injuries.
“It feels good to know we can call when we need help because keeping up our home can feel so overwhelming at times,” said Peggy Levitt, a new Help@Home member. “They take such wonderful care of us, and they do great work.”
This membership-based home maintenance program is available to adults ages 60+ or adults with disabilities who live in Jackson County, Missouri, and Johnson County, Kansas. During COVID-19, JFS revitalized its Help@Home program to ensure all home repairs could continue safely while expanding services for members who need short-term help transitioning from a rehabilitation center or hospital.
“Help@Home protocols keep our members safe by cleaning areas before and after jobs and reducing contact. Calls are made from the car to report on work completed. “During the pandemic, our professional staff was tested weekly for Covid-19 and are now fully vaccinated,” said Laura Gilman, JFS Director of Older Adult Services. “The program continues to allow members and their families the peace of mind they need to maintain control of their daily lives for as long as they chose to stay in their homes.”
Repair services for Help@Home members include weather stripping, installing locks and deadbolts, changing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries, annual gutter cleaning in the spring, garbage disposal installation with minor sink repairs, hanging pictures, and much more. In addition, members receive assistance with common technology services such as setting up a new computer or basic email or internet troubleshooting. A complete list of services is available at Help@Home.
All Help@Home members enjoy high-quality work performed by trained professionals, emergency assistance, and unlimited appointments scheduled in two-hour increments. In addition, members also receive an annual in-home consultation with an occupational therapist to assess modifications, including safety improvements.
“For many of our members, fall prevention is an important and cost-effective benefit,” Gilman said. On average, one in three older adults will fall each year. Falls are the leading cause of injuries for older Americans and treating fall-related injuries averages more than $9,500 per person.
Help@Home offers three membership levels with fees based on a sliding scale:
- Homeowners: the fee is $90 a month with a 12-month commitment; discount applied for members paying annual membership upfront.
- Renters: the fee is $50 a month with a 12-month commitment.
- Now (A new service is for adults who need short-term help transitioning back home from a rehabilitation center or hospital stay): the fee is $150 for three months. This membership includes modifications to homes completed before discharge. The services of a dedicated professional social worker are available to help members transition to their home.
There has never been a better time to become a member of Help@Home. Just ask Theresa Cox, a 71-year-old who lives alone with no family support in the Kansas City area.
“Recently, I have had my dryer vent cleaned, my pipes insulated, a door sealed, and a CO detector installed,” Cox said. “The staff who come to my house are always on time, knowledgeable, friendly, and efficient. I am beyond grateful that JFS understands the importance of helping older adults stay independent.”
“They [JFS staff] have helped by doing jobs around the house that prevent me from falling or becoming injured,” said Carrie Mays, who has been a Help@Home member for almost a decade. “They recently installed a storm door on my home that stopped air from blowing into my house this winter. I have been so happy with Help@Home; I helped my neighbor get enrolled in the program.”
To join Help@Home or give the gift of membership to someone you know, call (913) 981-8880 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.