More help for elderly and disabled available in Benton, Marshall counties

By Lena Mitchell/NEMS Daily Journal

RIPLEY – Changes in the Elderly and Disabled Medicaid Waiver Program mean new services for people in Northeast Mississippi.
The changes also bring enhancements to current services for the elderly and disabled in a program with the Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District. NMPDD serves Alcorn, Benton, Marshall, Prentiss, Tippah and Tishomingo counties.
“We case manage the services for the clients,” said program Director Charlotte Derrick. “A case management team goes out to do the interview and we offer various plans.”
Once the individual’s case is approved by the Mississippi Division of Medicaid, the case management team coordinates the services and makes monthly home visits to the clients to assure services are going as planned, determine if any adjustments or changes are needed or if any problems have come up.
Among the services offered are:
* Personal care assistant – A supportive service provided in the client’s home that includes assistance with light housekeeping, laundry, meal planning, marketing, food preparation and other services.
* Adult day services – A structured program away from home that allows participants to have social interaction with others.
* Expanded home health services – Services include a nurse, a nurse’s aide, physical therapy and speech therapy in the home.
* Home-delivered meals – A well balanced meal delivered to the home for someone unable to leave home without assistance or unable to prepare a meal without assistance.
* Respite care – Someone to relieve the primary caregiver on a short-term basis in the home or in an institutional setting.
* Transition assistance – Provided to assist a client who moves out of a nursing home or rehabilitation facility back into their home.
“This is such a good option for someone instead of a nursing home,” said Cathy Wilbanks, the licensed social worker team member for south Tippah County. “Sometimes they can manage most things for themselves but just need a little help. For instance, they may be able to bathe alone, but need help getting in and out of the tub. Sometimes they have a condition where they can’t stand up long enough to cook and prepare a meal.”
Each team includes a registered nurse and licensed social worker, and working with Wilbanks is Dana Harrell, RN. The north Tippah County team is Janet Dixon, LSW, and Connie Alberson, RNBC.
“With the expansion we have an office in Hickory Flat with three case managers to serve Benton and Marshall counties,” Derrick said. “Each county has its own case management team, and one case manager that serves both counties.”
The Benton County team includes Paula Tice, LSW, and Brenda Cossitt, RN. Marshall County’s team is Leah DePriest, LSW, and Dian Gray, RN. The joint county case manager is JoWynne Loller, RN.
“We provide transportation for people who go to the adult day center,” Wilbanks said. “They get to participate in activities like putting puzzles together, playing games, bingo and get a good lunch. You can tell they really have a good time.”
Not all communities have adult day centers, but residents in Alcorn, Prentiss and Tippah counties do have this program.
To qualify for the elderly and disabled assistance, Medicaid recipients must be age 21 or older, receive Supplemental Security Income or meet other SSI guidelines; received the required score on a Medicaid pre-admission screening; and require nursing facility level of care if assistance is not provided.
“We get referrals for people from many sources – a family member, a neighbor, a church – but the person’s doctor must approve it,” Derrick said. “We can do a preliminary screening by phone, then complete a one-page referral to put the person on a waiting list for the program.”
lena.mitchell@journalinc.com