There’s been a lot of press lately about Guilford County’s attempts to address the needs of foster children, but the county is also enhancing efforts to aid older adults who can’t take care of themselves entirely but wish to remain at home.

To help more of those adults, the Guilford County Division of Social Services is aggressively advancing an effort to find people who are 18 and older, live alone and are unable to care for themselves.  The goal is to make certain those clients have the help they need to prevent them from being forced to move into a group home or assisted-living facility, which in many cases they can’t afford.

County social service workers are conducting outreach efforts in the community so that those in the target population are aware of the available help.

To shore up those services, the county has also increased the rates it pays to reimburse private companies who play a role in the effort.

The programs are funded by state and federal grants, matching county funds, private grants and contributions from the adults receiving the care or from their families.

Diane Hayden, the program manager for Guilford County Aging and Adult Services said Guilford County is doing what it can to see that the important services are provided at the needed levels.

“We did increase our reimbursement rates to be more in line with market rates,” Haydon told the Guilford County Board of Commissioners recently in a presentation on the effort.

She said the county has had numerous outreach events – including eight in fiscal 2017-2018.

According to Hayden, one purpose of the program is to provide support services that allow elderly and disabled adults to remain safely in their homes.  She said the county’s support helps people do so at an affordable level and it increases their quality of life and encourages self-determination.

Guilford County works with nursing services and adult daycare centers to help people who are unable to look after themselves 24 hours a day or are unable to independently perform many of the activities of daily living that most people take for granted.

Some of those who benefit from the program require just a few hours of help each week to remain in their homes; however, some private in-home providers will only take on the job if the person requires a minimum of 10 or 12 hours of help per week.

Hayden said private sector aid and medical services can be much more expensive than the same ones when the county provides them. She added that, while some insurance policies do pay for in-home care and adult daycare services, those policies usually have caps and some people need services at a high level.

“County-based services are cheaper,” Hayden said.

Currently, Guilford County has 179 in-home care clients and 47 in the county’s adult daycare program.

According to Hayden, the work is very important because it allows older adults to remain home at the end of life when they don’t wish to be put into a group facility for their final months.  In the last fiscal year, 2017-2018, the county’s programs for the elderly and disabled made a big difference.

“Our most significant accomplishment,” she said, “was being able to honor the wishes of 27 individuals and honoring their desire to stay at home until they passed.”