After two years of planning, Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Lancaster has launched Senior Care Services, a nonmedical home care registry licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The registry will provide assistance with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, meal preparation, laundry, and light housekeeping. Clients may also opt for "reassurance safeguard" visits, home safety checks, and help with shopping and running errands, transportation, and paying bills.
"It is a godsend to adult children worried about their parents," commented JFS board secretary Miriam Baumgartner.
"And to the individual (receiving assistance)," added board member Nina Shapiro.
The services are geared toward seniors who are homebound, socially isolated, financially challenged, and in need of services enabling them to remain at home. Folks who have been recently released from the hospital, and even younger disabled people, may become clients.
Services are available to folks who need them, regardless of religious affiliation or ability to pay. A grant received from the Lancaster County Community Foundation in July 2017 will provide funding for a year. Fees for services will be assessed on a sliding scale. By charging full price to those who can afford it, JFS will make it possible to serve more people at reduced rates.
Currently, JFS Senior Care Services has just a handful of clients.
"We are consciously starting small to make sure the process works," said board treasurer Steven Kleinman.
There is no waiting list for services, Baumgartner noted. When prospective clients or their loved ones inquire about services, care manager Joni Caperelli will assess the situation and decide the best plan for the client.
"Our services are definitely not cookie-cutter," Baumgartner said.
Caperelli provides the services, as do volunteers. "We began with volunteers and quickly discovered we needed more than volunteers could do," Baumgartner said.
JFS president Jill Weisberg explained that the volunteers commit to three-month terms of service. Most of the volunteers are retirees, and all have passed background checks and have been trained by Hospice & Community Care.
While clients do not need to be Jewish to benefit from JFS Senior Care Services, the Jewish values of justice, compassion, and respect are a driving force for the organization's operation.
"People see our religious connection," Weisberg said. "Our values are important for how we treat our clients and run our (organization)."
JFS is one of several community organizations, churches, and agencies that provide financial support for acute needs to Lancaster County residents. Tabor Community Services and Lancaster County Council of Churches partner with JFS to meet those needs. JFS also offers a durable medical equipment loan closet that lends wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes, and more free of charge.
JFS is located at 75 E. James St., Lancaster, and serves residents in all of Lancaster County.
To learn more about JFS Senior Care Services, readers may visit http://www.jfslancaster.org/senior-care-services.html or call Weisberg at 717-537-1863.