Home maintenance program offers independence for individuals 60+
Never has the 60-plus set been so active and determined to live life independently in their own homes and on their terms. Sometimes, an extra set of hands is just what’s needed to make this a reality. Help@Home provides individuals more time to spend enjoying activities other than home repairs and household chores and helps prevent injuries for adults who are no longer able to perform such tasks.
The membership-based home maintenance program is available to adults ages 60 and older or adults with disabilities who live in portions of Jackson County, Mo. and Johnson County, Kan. During COVID-19, JFS revitalized Help@Home to ensure all home repairs could continue to be performed safely and expanded services for members who need short-term help transitioning from a rehabilitation center or hospital.
“Help@Home hasn’t skipped a beat. We have protocols to keep our members safe including cleaning areas before and after jobs and reducing contact by calling from the car to report on work completed. During the pandemic, our professional staff was weekly tested 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 he peace of mind they need to stay in control of their daily lives for as long as they chose to stay in their homes.”
Repair services offered for Help@Home members include: weather stripping, installing locks and deadbolts, changing light bulbs and smoke detector batteries, annual gutter cleaning (Spring), garbage disposal installation and 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 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 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:
Help@Home: For homeowners, the fee is $90 month for a 12-month commitment; discount applied for members paying annual membership upfront.
Help@Home Lite: For renters, the monthly fee is $50 for a 12-month commitment.
Help@Home Now: This 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 prior to discharge as well as the services of a dedicated professional social worker to help with members transitions to 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 Jewish Family Services has such a comprehension and understanding of the importance of helping to keep older adults 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 has 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.”
“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 such great work.”