For the Disabled and Elderly, Cutting Services Isn’t an Option

EAG, April 29, 2010

One home health agency finds creative ways to maintain services to those who need it most.

When the state of Kansas made cuts to their Medicaid budget, its effects were far reaching. Ten percent cuts were directly felt by individuals who are often in most need of services: the aging, frail and disabled.

The cuts were also felt by those organizations that provide care, like The Dream Works, a Kansas City, Kan. based home health and social service organization.

“Regardless of funding levels today, these communities still need care and resources,” said Ed McInnis, The Dream Works president/CEO. “We must find creative ways to deliver service to our clients efficiently and effectively.”

Well before the Medicaid cuts were enacted, The Dream Works staff considered contingency plans to not only cut costs but to add value to their relationship with existing clients.

The addition of services like home medical equipment sales, a nurturing neighbors volunteer program and home delivery of food and sundries enables The Dream Works to expand its relationship with its clients. The additional income sources are highly efficient because The Dream Works staff is already working very closely with the individuals and their families.

In many cases, waiting lists for state funds for long-term care services delay home care workers from delivering services to those in need. The Dream Works recently began conducting home evaluations of people on those waiting lists at no cost. The goal is to look for ways The Dream Works can provide guidance, supplies and services to help make the wait for the state funded, long-term care more bearable and safe for the person in need.

“At a home we visited last week we discovered a woman was using her shower faucet and shower sink to pull herself up off her shower chair. Both the shower faucet and the sink were very loose and not far from being pulled completely off the wall – a very unsafe situation,” explained Zach Hodson, home medical equipment coordinator for The Dream Works. “The woman was able to purchase grab bars and we then spent a few hours installing them free of charge. Her whole family was very appreciative that we were looking out for her safety.”

The Dream Works administrative staff has worked diligently to reduce energy consumption, recycle supplies and travel with the greatest efficiency. McInnis is adamant that the last place The Dream Works will cut costs is in delivery of service to customers.

In a challenging economy, many organizations immediately slash payroll and salaries. But for The Dream Works, maintaining salary levels is an important part of working through the current Medicaid cuts.

McInnis notes that a stable, competitively paid workforce actually reduces long-term costs. When those receiving services switch from one home health organization to another, there are costs incurred within the system. “Fewer turnovers of our self-directed workers means a more stable client base and less administrative costs for the entire system,” said McInnis.

Tremendous uncertainty still revolves around Medicaid reimbursement rates and the ability of care providers to maintain service levels. For The Dream Works, there is still a long way to go before the unthinkable will even be considered – any cut in services to those who need it most.

The Dream Works, Inc.

The Dream Works is a comprehensive home health and social service agency serving Kansas and Missouri. Their primary purpose is to help individuals in the aging and disability communities maintain a rewarding lifestyle in an environment of their choosing, while reducing the burden on family and friends.

The Dream Works is locally owned and operated in the Kansas City metropolitan area and offers residential services, service coordination, specialty services, and medical supplies and equipment with fast, free delivery on most items. They are passionate about giving back to the community. Every dollar spent with The Dream Works helps another person add quality and choice to their life. For more information, visit www.TheDreamWorksinc.com.