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HESSCO provides support for elders and those who care for them. Services include but are not limited to: home care services, caregiver support, nutrition and nutrition counseling, information and referral, money management and more.

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Be Prepared for Extreme Heat

By |July 12th, 2016|

Be Prepared for Extreme Heat

July 7, 2016, by Kathleen Votava, Office of Regional Operations, Administration for Community Living

As summer is upon us, this is an important reminder regarding planning for and responding to periods of extreme heat. It is a time to prepare yourself and those in your care. Whether you are an older adult, an individual with a disability, or a family member caring for a loved one with functional needs, each person’s requirements and abilities are unique. During periods of extreme heat, every individual can take important steps to put plans in place and prepare for potential risks, such as power outages. By evaluating your own personal needs and making an emergency plan, you can be better prepared for any situation. Read More

World Elder Abuse Awareness Day – Tools, Tips, Resources

By |June 14th, 2016|

Tools & Tips

Every year an estimated 5 million older Americans are victims of elder abuse, neglect, or exploitation. And that’s only part of the picture: Experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23 cases go unreported.

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Meals on Wheels Recipients Receive Gift from New England Patriots

By |June 6th, 2016|

HESSCO home delivered meals consumers received a special gift last week from The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation.  Following a big fundraising event, the Foundation had a number of bouquets and flower arrangements leftover.  Instead of letting them go to waste, the flowers were donated to HESSCO to serve as a gift to their Meals on Wheels recipients.  Volunteer meals drivers delivered over 40 vases of beautifully arranged white gerbera daisies along with note cards to seniors in Canton and Sharon.  “It’s more than just flowers…The consumers received something special, in addition to their lunch, to put a smile on their faces. We are so grateful to be able to share this gift with them,” said Debbie Fradkin, HESSCO Community Relations Manager.

Pats flowers 6 may 2016Pats flowers 2 may 2016

 

Project 351 partners with HESSCO and Foxboro COA to Benefit Area Seniors

By |June 6th, 2016|

Project 351, an innovative statewide youth-driven service organization, recently selected Health and Social Services Consortium, Inc. (HESSCO) and Foxboro Council on Aging to be the recipients of one of their spring service projects benefiting local seniors.  Project 351 unites an 8th grade Ambassador from every city and town in Massachusetts for a transformative year of leadership development, enrichment, and impact. Through unique service opportunities, Ambassadors gain valuable skills, create positive change in communities, build a statewide network of values-aligned peers, and unite the Commonwealth in common purpose.  Each spring, the Governor and New England Patriots Foundation host Ambassadors and Alumni at Gillette Stadium for a Reunion celebration of youth leadership and service.  Reunion features a Town Meeting, leadership skill-building workshops, inspirational speakers, and the annual “Peace & Unity Walk”, a fundraiser in support of The Martin W. Richard Foundation.  Ambassadors at this year’s Reunion, held on May 21st, participated in service projects in partnership with the Summer Urban Program, Hope & Comfort, Fresh Truck, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, the Foxboro Council on Aging and HESSCO.  The 351 Ambassadors shopped for garden fresh vegetables at Fresh Truck and packaged 400 the fresh food bags with the ingredients for summer salads.  They also compiled “Care and Compassion” bags which consisted of hand sanitizer, tissues, lip balm and framed inspirational quotes.  Through coordination with Foxboro COA and HESSCO, the 400 care and food packages were then distributed to seniors in Foxboro, Plainville and Wrentham at the HESSCO congregate meal sites and through the home delivered meals program.  “We are honored to have partnered with Project 351 for this truly inspirational event.  I was blown away by the care and compassion of the 351 students from across the Commonwealth.  The seniors in Foxboro, Plainville and Wrentham who were the recipients of over 400 care and food packages were extremely grateful to the students for their gifts,” stated Jayne Davis, HESSCO Nutrition Program Director.

Plainville seniors show off their fresh food bags they received from Project 351

Plainville seniors show off their fresh food bags they received from Project 351

Fresh food bags being distributed at Foxboro Meal Site

Fresh food bags being distributed at Foxboro Meal Site

Care & Compassion Bags given to Home Delivered Meals Consumers

Care & Compassion Bags given to Home Delivered Meals Consumers

Being Pushed Out of the Hospital Too Soon?

By |June 2nd, 2016|

Eldercare Q&A                                        July, 2016

 Q: If I think I’m not ready for a hospital discharge, can I appeal?

A: Yes. If you are on Medicare, and you think your hospital services are ending too soon, you can file an appeal—and gain some extra time from Medicare. You can ask questions about or challenge the quality of the health care you have received, your access to appropriate health care, your discharge from the hospital, or your termination from skilled services.

For example, if you are in a hospital, and you are told you are going to be discharged—but you feel too sick to leave—you can appeal your discharge to the Medicare designated Quality Improvement Organization (QIO), which for Massachusetts is a company named Livanta.

When the hospital is going to discharge a person on Medicare, they will give the patient a notice in writing called “An Important Message from Medicare,” which will explain how to file an appeal with Livanta. Medicare regulation requires you to request a review no later than midnight of the day of discharge. (On weekdays, Livanta’s Medicare Helpline is open 8 am to 5pm, on the weekends the line is open 11 am to 3 pm. Just leave your phone number if you get a message machine.) Once you appeal, you can then stay in the hospital without having to pay (except for copays and deductibles) until at least noon of the day after Livanta notifies you, the hospital, and the doctor of its decision. If you appeal to Livanta, you cannot be discharged without your consent. By appealing, you delay your discharge by at least a day or two.

To get your appeal started, you must call Livanta’s HelpLine at 1-866-815-5440. Livanta will then call and fax the hospital and request your medical records. A physician reviewer at Livanta decides whether or not you are healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital. When the review is complete, you will receive a phone call and letter from Livanta with the decision.

You can also file an appeal if you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage managed care plan. You have the same appeal rights whether you are in traditional Medicare, or in a managed care plan. If you would like to have someone else explain your case to Livanta, you can appoint a representative to speak on your behalf. There are no fees to have your discharge appeal reviewed by Livanta.

Note: Be sure to ask your hospital: “What is my admission status?” If you are on “observation status,” you have appeal rights through the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). The hospital should give you an Advanced Beneficiary Notice (ABN), which describes your appeal rights through the MAC.

You also have the right to appeal to Livanta over a termination of “skilled services,” such as home health, skilled nursing, hospice, and outpatient rehabilitation. Livanta will review your case, and decide if continued skilled services are medically necessary based upon standards of care.

This whole appeal process must be completed within one day after Livanta receives all medical records for hospital appeals requests filed in a timely way, or within 24 to 72 hours (depending on the type of review) from your first call for a skilled services appeal. If you are not satisfied with Livanta’s decision, you can request a further appeal—but any skilled services you receive after the termination or discharge date might not be paid by Medicare. This means you would be completely responsible for those costs. For a link to the Livanta Medicare appeal process go to: http://bfccqioarea1.com/appeals.html

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Sharon Housing Authority Receives “2016 Outstanding Agency” Award for Supportive Housing Program

By |May 26th, 2016|

The Sharon Housing Authority has been named “2016 Outstanding Agency” by the Massachusetts Chapter of National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) for their Supportive Housing Program for its innovation and ability to enhance the lives of residents.  The award was presented to the Sharon Housing Authority at the NAHRO Annual Conference at The Sea Crest in Falmouth on May 23rd.

 

The Sharon Housing Authority and Health and Social Services Consortium, Inc. (HESSCO) entered into a partnership in December 2014 made possible through a grant from the Executive Office of Elder Affairs.  HESSCO is the Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) provider for Sharon and 11 other towns in South Norfolk County.  The introduction of the Supportive Housing Program allows HESSCO to have a full-time Supportive Service Coordinator (SSC) on site to enhance independent living for seniors and persons living with disabilities.  The SSC is available to answer questions, assess situations, develop, implement and manage care plans, connect residents with resources, and organize social activities.  The Supportive Housing Program assists residents to age in place and to make lifestyle changes that help improve the quality of their lives.  Social activities are offered to residents in the newly renovated Hixon Farm Community Building.  Self-serve breakfasts are available daily.  Residents are also offered monthly luncheons, including a monthly Chinese lunch and summer barbeques.  The service provider agency, Anodyne Homemaking Services Corporation, provides 24 hour coverage and has staff on site from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

 

According to Sharon Housing Authority Executive Director Jane Desberg, “This new partnership between HESSCO and Sharon Housing Authority has strengthened the ability to provide on-site supportive services and bridge a gap between housing and social service type needs of all residents…Working together, the Authority has been more successful in helping elders at risk.”

 

(pictured from L to R) Jane Desberg, Sharon Housing Authority Executive Director; Lisa Audette, MassNAHRO President, Chelsea Nelson, HESSCO Supportive Services Coordinator; Mary Jean McDermott, HESSCO Executive Director

(pictured from L to R) Jane Desberg, Sharon Housing Authority Executive Director; Lisa Audette, MassNAHRO President, Chelsea Nelson, HESSCO Supportive Services Coordinator; Mary Jean McDermott, HESSCO Executive Director

 

GATRA Rides for Canton, Walpole and Sharon Residents

By |May 24th, 2016|

GATRA Helps “The Ride” Passengers in Canton, Walpole and Sharon Travel to Foxboro

Patriot Place in Foxborough is not only the home of the world famous New England Patriots, but is also the prime location of many top-notched medical services south of Boston.

Unfortunately, many people living in Sharon, Canton or Walpole, who rely on The Ride service to take them to medical appointments at Patriot Place, were told they could not get transportation to the neighboring town. Why? Because The Ride does not go to Patriots Place. Why Not? Because The Ride is operated by the MBTA and Patriot Place is located in the GATRA service area so only GATRA vehicles can go there.

All that changed in January when Joanne LaFerrara, GATRA’s Director of Customer Relations, applied for and received a Community Transit Grant from MassDOT. This grant funds a coordinated transportation effort with The Ride. Consumers who have been approved for services from The Ride but would like to travel to the medical facilities located in Foxboro now have that option.

If the approved consumer resides in Canton, Walpole or Sharon, GATRA vehicles can travel to pick them up and transport them to Foxboro. If the consumer lives outside of those communities but would still like to make a medical appointment in Foxboro, GATRA and The Ride operator will work together and do everything they can to make it happen.

For additional information please call Joanne LaFerrara at 508-823-8828, ext. 275.

The “Crafty Ladies” are “Blazing a Trail” and Doing What They Love

By |May 19th, 2016|

This year’s Older American’s Month theme, “Blazing a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.  HESSCO is celebrating OAM by recognizing older adults in our area who have embraced this philosophy and are using their skills to make a difference.  Millis seniors Natalie Bossie, Jackie Carroll, Carol Fetter, Carol Russo, Camille Saitta, Dottie Skag and Pam Wilkey are the aptly named “Crafty Ladies.”  This lovely group of women get together ever Tuesday to do what they love – craft!  Their group first formed as a one-stroke painting art group and evolved into a weekly crafting group.  Sometimes they work on a specific project and other times they bring their own individual projects to work on.  They are not only following their passion for the arts, but they’re using their skills and years of experience to serve others.  One craft a month is dedicated to be shared with the HESSCO “Meals on Wheels” consumers who receive home delivered meals through the Millis Meal Site at Millis Council on Aging.  The ladies pick a seasonally themed craft that they think will be enjoyed by the consumers.  “It’s a little something extra, in addition to their lunch, to put a smile on their faces,” said Carol Fetter, the founder of the Group.  They have crafted “bunny bags” for Easter, “turkey pins” at Thanksgiving and snowmen in the winter, to name a few.  The items are adorable and the ladies try to include items that would also be useful…such as tea bags with handmade notecards.  Much of the crafting supplies come from their own donations.  Many of the ladies attend other activities at the Senior Center – some participate in exercise class, scrabble, outings and luncheons.  They all agreed that the crafting group is largely a social outlet, but it makes them feel good to give back.  Although the ladies don’t get to see the recipients’ reactions, they sometimes get positive feedback from the volunteer drivers, so they know their donations are appreciated. Carol added, “Just knowing that we may have brightened their days makes us feel good.”  This is a perfect example that the effort doesn’t need to be a monumental one in order to make a difference.  These ladies are doing something they love, and making a difference, one craft project at a time.

crafty ladies 5Valentine craftMillis 6

MASS HOME CARE Part of New End-of-Life Care Coalition

By |May 13th, 2016|

 Mass Home Care Part of New End-of-Life Care Coalition

BOSTON, May 12, 2016—Mass Home Care is one of the statewide groups that is participating in a new coalition to help people of all ages to make their wishes know about end of life care.

Eighty-five percent of Massachusetts residents believe that physicians and their patients should talk about end-of-life care – but only 15 percent have actually had such conversations, according to a new statewide survey by the Massachusetts Coalition for Serious Illness Care.

Strikingly, even those respondents facing serious illness are reluctant to plan ahead with their care team. Only 25 percent of respondents facing such afflictions reported talking with their physician about end-of-life care.

In addition, although the vast majority of people will eventually encounter medical situations in which they are unable to make decisions for themselves:

  • Almost half of the population (46 percent), including most men, people of color, and those without college education, have not discussed their wishes for serious illness care with others.
  • Most respondents (55 percent) have not named a health care agent (or proxy) to make such decisions.

“These findings are a wake-up call for all of us, clinicians and patients alike,” said Atul Gawande, M.D., M.P.H., co-chair of the Coalition, executive director of Ariadne Labs, a joint center of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

“People have priorities in their lives besides just living longer,” said Dr. Gawande. “They have goals and aims for the quality of their life, too. This survey shines a light on the need to ask people about what those priorities are– and then to ensure that they are honored.

“This is about how you want to live, not just about how you want to die,” Gawande said. “When clinicians don’t talk to people about their priorities for serious illness care, care can become misaligned with what matters to them. And the result is suffering.”

The landmark survey’s findings were  shared at the Coalition’s inaugural Summit at the Kennedy Library in Boston.

The Coalition’s goal is “for everyone in Massachusetts to be cared for in accordance with their own goals and preferences, at every stage of health care and illness,” said Maureen Bisognano, co-chair of the Coalition and former President and CEO of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. “We have to have the will to build a system where clinicians feel comfortable raising these conversations with their patients. And people feel comfortable raising it with their clinicians.”

But there is work to be done to achieve that goal, according to the survey. One-third of Massachusetts residents who had a loved one die in the past year said patient preferences were not fully followed. And one-fifth described the end-of-life care they witnessed as only fair or poor.

“None of us should be satisfied until people across the Commonwealth feel much more comfortable to express their wishes, and clinicians have the time and skills to really understand, so they can respect those wishes,” said Bisognano.

But the survey shines light on reasons for hopefulness, too. When respondents do name a health care agent, 85 percent talked to their agent about their wishes if faced with serious illness.

“There are people doing incredible work in this area in Massachusetts,” said Andrew Dreyfus, another Coalition founding member and President and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts. “They are joining the Coalition to give these matters the focused attention they deserve. And to help make Massachusetts a national leader in serious illness care, just as we have been a national leader in so many other important areas of health care. This is the right time. And this is the right community in which to do it.”

“We want to make this conversation easier to have,” explained coalition member Al Norman of Mass Home Care. “People want their health care to be consistent with their values and wishes. The best way to do that is to tell family and practitioners what you want in advance—because when the time comes—you may not be able to have that conversation yourself.”SeriousIllnessPanel2016

Blaze a Trail to Wellness

By |May 5th, 2016|

Logos2

May is Older Americans Month.  The 2016 theme, “Blaze a Trail,” emphasizes the ways older adults are reinventing themselves through new work and passions, engaging their communities, and blazing a trail of positive impact on the lives of people of all ages.

It’s never too late to get more active or revamp your diet.  Small changes can lead to huge differences in the way you feel and the way your body works.  Although you should always consult with your doctor before making changes, there are easy steps you can take toward overall wellness-regardless of your age.  Important things to keep in mind:

  1. Start slowly – If you have not been exercising, choose something low-impact that you can do a little at a time.
  2. Exercising is less of a chore when you do it with other people you enjoy – Gather a group of friends or join a class that offers what you are looking for.
  3. Activity is important, but nutrition is equally vital – Try keeping an honest record of what you eat to see how you are doing.

4. Wellness is a matter of body and mind – Eating healthy foods and staying active may reduce risks to your brain’s health.  Do even more by learning new things and exercising your mind.  Try reading, playing games, taking a class, or simply being social.