Senate Staff Sees Older Americans Act in Action, Shadows Home Care Worker

Last week, staff members of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Care and Aging shadowed an in-home care worker following introduced reauthorization of the Older Americans Act (OAA)

The Subcommittee staff comprised of Sophie Kasimow, Erica Solway and Bill Gendell, visited the home of 85-year old Irene White, an 85-year-old Washington, D.C. resident with Alzheimer’s disease.

The purpose of the trip was for committee members to see OAA programs in action, as the Subcommittee is leading efforts to reauthorize the act this year.

Under OAA Title III and D.C. Office on Aging funding, Mrs. White receives personal care and housekeeping from nonprofit Home Care Partners worker Joyce Colbert.

Colbert, 55, was able to receive her home care training through a grant from the D.C. Office on Aging Older Workers Training Fund, which is funded through Title V of the OAA. 

For four hours three days a week, Colbert provides Mrs. White with assistance in activities of daily living, such as bathing, eating, dressing and housekeeping. 

With the help of Colbert, Mrs. White is able to maintain her dignity and age in place.

With the exception of the 12 hours of care per week provided by Colbert, Mr. White is the sole caregiver for his wife, who has regained her strength to stand after a recent hospitalization. 

To support him in his role as caregiver, Mr. White participates in Home Care Partners’ caregiver support program funded through OAA Title IIIE. Under the program, a caregiver educator provides Mr. White and other participants with support and reimbursement for some supplies used for caregiving. 

The reauthorization bill for the OAA, introduced on May 23 by Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be important for the future of programs such as these that help older Americans, notes the Paraprofessional Health Institute.

The bill also incorporates provisions from previous legislation to test advanced roles for aides.

Written by Jason Oliva