When Greater Lynn Senior Services was incorporated back in the 1970s, its initial state certification was as a “Home Care Corporation.” While the breadth of services offered by the agency has grown and evolved over more than 40 years, home care remains central to the agency’s mission of helping people of all ages living with disabilities remain independent, safely and with dignity, in the community settings of their choice. “Services may have changed and improved over time, but the basic idea is the same,” says Holly Jarrell-Marcinelli, Director of Consumer Services at GLSS. “We have helped countless people achieve the goal of ‘aging in place’ in their own homes, which is really what most of us want, when possible.” According to AARP, 87% of older adults want to remain in their home or community as they age.
Today, over 4,000 adults of all ages living with disabilities in the Greater Lynn area receive help at home through GLSS. “Home care includes everything from traditional services like personal care, meals, and homemaking to transportation, accessibility adaptations, and medication management,” says Jarrell-Marcinelli. “We offer programs to meet pretty much every need.” These include Senior Care Options, a health-insurance based program; Supportive Housing, available at several affordable senior housing sites in Lynn and Saugus; Consumer Directed Care, where the consumer can hire their own home care workers (including, in some cases, certain family members); special programs for veterans; and more. “One misconception about GLSS is that we serve only low-income residents, and nothing could be farther from the truth,” Jarrell-Marcinelli states. “Home care services through GLSS are free or affordable and provided on a sliding scale based on income level.”
Every GLSS consumer is assigned a dedicated case manager, who works with individuals and families to develop and manage a plan of care. Case managers coordinate care with a number of the area’s best home care providers, which must meet certain standards in order to contract with the agency. “When my mother fell and broke her hip at age 92, she suddenly went from total independence to needing help with pretty much everything,” said one GLSS staffer. “After a stay in rehab, she was able to come home and live independently with some help, and GLSS was key to making that happen.” Case managers are always available by phone or e-mail (with rotating coverage on weekends) and visit twice a year, sometimes with a nurse who can make clinical assessments to determine if needs have changed. “In emergency situations, we can work with an individual, caregiver, or hospital to set up care at home right away,” Jarrell-Marcinelli notes. GLSS has case management staff embedded at local hospitals and nursing facilities to coordinate the services and supports needed for a safe discharge home.
“I love what I do and wish I had found it earlier in my life,” says Senior Case Manager, Robin deStefano, LSW, who has worked at GLSS for close to 20 years. “It is wonderful to hear our consumers’ stories, and it is extremely rewarding when they achieve a goal they have set for themselves.” While deStefano notes that in these economic times it can sometimes be a challenge to fully meet every individual’s needs, she says that GLSS staff are incredibly resourceful and creative in helping their consumers improve their quality of life. “It’s a hallmark of our agency and has been for more than 40 years,” she states. For example, case managers participate in weekly brainstorming sessions in which they can share information and learn from one another, reviewing the most challenging cases and working together to creatively meet consumer needs. “We continually learn from each other and from our consumers,” deStefano adds. She is also a certified Options Counselor and Transitions Coordinator, providing important information and resources about independent living and helping consumers transition from institutional settings back home.
With referrals to other services provided by GLSS, like Meals on Wheels and the Family Caregiver Support Program, and through contracts with outside providers, which offer things like Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS), heavy chore services, and enrollment in adult day health programs, remaining independent at home is more and more possible even for frail elders. “We celebrate each individual’s ability to live independently and really focus on the person, giving them choices and options, so they can play an integral role in their care planning,” Jarrell-Marcinelli states.
Every year, GLSS surveys thousands of consumers about their experience receiving services through GLSS. Last year, 94 percent of consumers stated that GLSS case management services were either excellent or good. “We take a great deal of pride in those numbers,” says Jarrell-Marcinelli. The largely positive comments from consumers surveyed include: “I am happy with everything and thankful to my case manager for attention and help;” “I have a wonderful, caring case manager;” and “Everything I ever needed was always done for me. I am very grateful.” This past summer, GLSS received a highly regarded national accreditation for its case management services from the National Committee on Quality Assurance (NCQA). The prestigious and nationally recognized award was the result of approximately 15 months of intensive review, which culminated in a site audit of sampled case coordination files by an NCQA representative. Learn more at www.ncqa.org.
To learn more about GLSS Home Care Services, visit www.glss.net or call 781-599-0110 and ask for Information & Referral.