Seniors | JFCS/East Bay answers need by launching home care program

Responding to a growing community need, Jewish Family and Children’s Services of the East Bay has entered the burgeoning home care business — with a twist.

Berkeley-based JFCS launched its Home Care for Seniors program last month in collaboration with 24Hr HomeCare, a privately owned company based in Southern California. The unusual partnership between  a nonprofit agency and for-profit business allows JFCS  to “leverage what we’re best at, while teaming up with somebody who already has the expertise and infrastructure” to provide home care services, said JFCS executive director Avi Rose.

Already, eight clients are being served.

Avi Rose

Home Care for Seniors offers a range of non-medical services for older adults in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties, including:

Personal care — companionship, mobility assistance, fall precaution, bathing, dressing, incontinence care, grooming and medication reminders;

Domestic duties — meal preparation, light housekeeping, laundry, linen changes and pet care;

Transportation — driving or escorting client to doctor appointments, grocery shopping, medication pickup and on general errands;

Mobility — range-of-motion exercises and walks.

The home care workers are hired, employed, insured and bonded by 24Hr HomeCare. JFCS works with the company in supervising care and training employees about Jewish cultural and religious issues relevant to home care, and handles billing.

24Hr HomeCare, founded in 2008, has four offices in Southern California and one in Walnut Creek.

The interface with Home Care for Seniors begins with a phone call to JFCS. “We do an intake on the phone,” said Rob Tufel, JFCS director of adults services. “We get all the information and schedule a home visit. All that information goes to 24HR HomeCare, which makes a home visit and places a home care aide.

“We do follow-up with clients … We sometimes will go out on a home visit with 24Hr. We are that extra layer that’s going to provide  quality control.”

JFCS is developing a training program on Jewish issues for 24Hr’s employees. “It’s a series of five modules, done online, that will educate workers on all aspects of Jewish life: eating, holidays, aspects of religion. If the issue is a kosher home, or caring for clients on Yom Kippur or Passover, the home care worker will be able to respond appropriately,” Tufel said.

JFCS/East Bay client Jean Bittner with her caregiver, Yesenia Rodrigues. photo/barbi jo stim

Fees range from $19-$25 per hour. Tufel said some Holocaust survivors may be eligible for fee assistance, and some long-term-care insurance policies cover home care.

Home Care for Seniors is JFCS’ response to clients seeking guidance in finding these services. Tufel said the JFCS senior information and referral line, (510) 558-7800, “gets 500 calls a year. Twenty percent ask about home care.”

Rose said JFCS has been “looking at the issue of how to best provide home care services for five years. It has been a long process, with a feasibility study and a revised business plan, involving the board and a board task force. We struggled with the best way to do it that would use resources wisely and assure a quality of care.”

After deciding that the quickest, least expensive way to provide home care would be in collaboration with an existing provider, “We began talks about a year ago with several home care agencies,” Rose said. JFCS already had a “very good experience referring people to 24Hr. We chose 24Hr for its service, care, follow-up and determination to do what needs to be done for a client.”

Despite its name, Home Care for Seniors is not just for the older set. Its services may also be useful for people with disabilities or those transitioning home from the hospital or recovering from an injury  — in short, anyone needing short- or long-term assistance in the home.

24Hr HomeCare has provided home care in collaboration with JFCS offices in Southern California, Tufel added. The company’s 2012 revenues were $18 million, an 89 percent increase over 2011, according to Forbes magazine. In February, Forbes’ list of America’s Most Promising Companies ranked 24Hr HomeCare as 27th.

Rose views the enterprise as “our program, and people who call us for services are our clients, but we’re essentially using a vendor to provide home care services.”

(S.F.-based Jewish Family and Children’s Services, which serves San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma counties, also provides home care services, through its Seniors at Home program, but employs its caregivers directly.)

JFCS of the East Bay had projected that the program would serve 25 clients after 12 months, but “it looks very clear that it’s going to grow faster than that,” Rose said. “Our projections were very conservative, because we felt that was the responsible thing to do, but we knew when we launched that the response would be greater. And it is.”

Rose credits JFCS’ reputation in the community. “So many people, when they need this service, want to turn to institutions that they know and trust,” he said. “You don’t want to simply look in the Yellow Pages. You want to call someone who has expertise and a reputation for being helpful.”

For more information on Home Care for Seniors, call (510) 684-6009 or (925) 949-6151, or email [email protected] Further information also is available  at http://www.jfcs-eastbay.org/homecare.