Ron Craft of Bristol is typical of many adult children who lovingly care for their aging parents. He considers it “a blessing” to be able to keep his mother, Shirley Dunphy, comfortably living in her own home. Also typical for family caregivers, Ron gave up his salary when he left his job as a financial advisor ten years ago to help his mom. However, Ron was able to ease his financial stress three years ago when he enrolled in the Connecticut Adult Family Living (AFL) program that pays him to provide care. Ron is supported by Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire, a credentialed provider of the AFL program.
“A lot of elderly parents don’t want to be a burden to their children, so they don’t ask for the assistance they need until there’s a crisis,” explains Mario D’Aquila, MBA and COO of Assisted Living Services. “The AFL program stipend eases any guilt parents may have about their child losing income, as well as financial stress for the caregiver.”
D’Aquila explains that a caregiver can receive a tax-free stipend of over $500 per week, depending on the complexity of care, under AFL. The program is part of the Department of Social Services’ Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders (CHCPE).
Shirley, 80, required care after falling down the stairs 13 years ago and sustaining second degree burns on her legs. She never fully recovered. Ron, 57, lives with his mother and does all of the cooking & laundry, gets her dressed, drives her to doctor’s appointments, bathes her and pays her bills. Prior to the fall, Shirley was extremely active, travelled a lot, was involved in church and other activities and hobbies, and socialized with friends. Dunphy is still full of mental energy, but uses a walker and cane to move around.
“It was difficult at first for me to admit that I physically needed help as I was always very independent and took care of others,” shares Dunphy. “I had to learn how to allow others to care for me. There’s always a sense of pride in all of us not wanting to admit you need help. But it is so natural for a mother and son to care for and help each other.”
The pair also share a spiritual bond as they are both retired ordained ministers. Dunphy writes faith-infused, Christian-based books. She authored Windfall: A Cut Above on Amazon and Kindle with four more books in the works based on her life experiences.
Shirley learned about the AFL program during a home visit from the CCCI (Community Care of CT, Inc) organization. Ron had previously volunteered at a nursing home, so he was already comfortable with caregiving.
“Before we could even apply for the program, Mary Scagliarini RN, Director of the Adult Family Living Program at Assisted Living Services (ALS), came to our house to get it prepared by installing fire alarms, life alert, etc.,” said Ron. “She then guided us through the application process and it was approved within a few days.” He is grateful that today, ALS offers a huge support network to give guidance and answer questions. Mary and Nurse Andrea Murray are just a phone call away.”
In its formal role as a credentialed provider of the program, ALS provides Ron and other caregivers with the “tools” needed to be comfortable and successful at caregiving, such as:
· Provide the caregiver with orientation, education and on-going support.
· Ensure that the home is properly maintained as required by the State.
· Make sure the Caregiver is meeting the homecare and safety needs of the participant.
· Pay the Caregiver weekly and offer direct deposit for convenience.
· Provide respite coverage for the Caregiver for time off or vacations as needed.
· Enlist resources, such as a Certified Dementia Care Specialist, to assist in training for certain circumstances.
· Utilize the company’s unique and innovative program called CarePlus that combines caregiving and technology to help address client needs at no additional cost. “Personal care supplemented with wireless devices is the perfect combination,” said D’Aquila.
In order to qualify, applicants must be a Connecticut resident, 65 years of age or older, at risk of nursing home placement, meaning, the applicant needs assistance with critical personal care such as bathing, dressing, eating, taking medications, toileting or transferring, as well as meet the program’s financial eligibility criteria.
“Most elderly people want to remain in their own home and home care is more cost-effective than an in-patient care facility,” said D’Aquila.
“God bless this program!” exclaims Dunphy. “It has allowed me to live with my son in my own house. My son is my eyes, heart and soul, he is my guide and I am so grateful to be cared for by him.”
For his part, Ron is thrilled to see his mother not just living, but thriving. “I encourage anyone not yet enrolled in the AFL program to reach out to Assisted Living Services, as it’s going to alter your life!”
For almost 25 years, award-winning home care agency Assisted Living Services, Inc. in Cheshire with branch locations in Clinton and Fairfield has provided quality care to residents across Connecticut. Their unique CarePlus program blends personal care with technological safety and monitoring devices from sister company Assisted Living Technologies, Inc. Learn more by visiting www.assistedlivingct.com or calling 203.634.8668.
PHOTO: Ron Craft is the fulltime caregiver for his mother, Shirley Dunphy, through Assisted Living Services Inc. in Cheshire that oversees a state program that pays CT residents to care for seniors and elderly family members at home.