Blog Post

Program provides temporary help to support self-sufficiency


By Marcia Z. Siegal

When Sarah Jackson* was recovering from a double mastectomy and receiving chemotherapy to treat her breast cancer, the ordeal left the 60-year-old drained and lethargic. Taking care of herself and her home had become overwhelming. That situation changed when she began to receive temporary support services through the In-Home Support Program (IHSP) offered by Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA).

“We provided her with home-delivered meals, housekeeping and shopping assistance during her recovery,” said Karen Becker, director of in-home support and special projects for Catholic Housing and Community Services (CHCS) at St. Charles Senior Community Center. “Once she was back on her feet in six months’ time, she was discharged from the In-Home Support Program. She was able return to work from her medical leave and regain her independent lifestyle.”

Serving seniors in South Philadelphia, St. Charles is one of five senior community centers in Philadelphia subcontracted by PCA to administer IHSP.

The only program of its kind in Pennsylvania, IHSP provides a short-term solution (from one to six months) for people who need extra help due to a temporary setback such as a surgery, an injury or a serious medical condition that has impaired their independence. It does not serve people in need of ongoing long-term care services; rather, it provides early intervention to prevent the need for long-term care services. Last year, the program assisted nearly 3,200 older Philadelphians.

Depending on the individual’s care needs, IHSP can provide home-delivered meals; housekeeping, personal care and shopping assistance; an escort to medical and other appointments; a senior companion (a stipend volunteer, who helps with small tasks and provides companionship to an older adult who is socially isolated); transportation; medical supplies; help with accessing benefits; and more. “Our goal is to assist participants by improving their chances of recovering safely in their homes and enabling them to do so with dignity,” Becker said.

Needed assistance

To be eligible for this temporary program, individuals must be 60 or older and need assistance or supervision with leaving their home on a short-term basis. There are no income criteria. “Typical issues include difficulty managing themselves and/or their environment after returning home from a hospital stay and lack of adequate support from family or friends during recovery,” said Becker. “Individuals who have experienced fractures from a fall or accident often seek our assistance while they are healing. They cannot perform normal activities of daily living during the healing/recovery process. We emphasize the importance of working toward becoming independent again within a reasonable amount of time.”

Once an individual is referred to IHSP – often by a family member – a case manager schedules an assessment visit within a few days to determine the person’s service needs. Currently, there is no waiting list for IHSP administered by any of the five subcontractors. “We are able to assess people and arrange for [PCA’s] home-delivered meals immediately and start the process to connect them to other needed services,” Becker said. Most services, such as personal care and shopping assistance, are only offered for a short period of time. Certain services may be available for as long as they are needed, such as home delivered meals, transportation and senior companions.

A safety net          

Services provided through IHSP can often help prevent a minor health setback from becoming a crisis. Regina D’Adamo* became an IHSP participant due to severe visual impairment that unexpectedly set in after her cataract surgery. She lives alone and received much-needed housekeeping and shopping assistance for several months. “It helped me do things I couldn’t do for myself and lifted my spirits at a difficult time,” she said.

D’Adamo is deaf in one ear and severely hearing-impaired in the other. Through IHSP, discretionary funds were available to help her pay for a new hearing aid when her old one was beyond repair. “She was completely deaf without it, and she could not afford to replace it herself,” Becker said. While D’Adamo’s vision loss prompted her to contact IHSP for support, “the main inhibitor to her independence was the loss of her hearing,” Becker said.

In addition, D’Adamo received home-delivered meals offered by PCA to homebound seniors in long-term care and seniors in IHSP. “The meals have been very good,” said the 69-year-old. “I get a delivery of seven frozen meals a week and put one in the microwave each day. It’s a lot easier for me to manage this way since I can’t prepare meals on my own. The people who deliver the meals are very courteous and caring. I enjoy talking to them when they come.”

IHSP can also address additional needs, including extermination services; financial assistance with the purchase of nutritional supplements and incontinence supplies; and home repairs, such as repair and installation of handrails, to enhance participants’ ability to navigate their home environment.

IHSP case managers make regular phone calls and visits to monitor participants’ progress and assess any changes in their health and need for services that would necessitate a change in their care plan.

Generally IHSP consumers are discharged after a few months, when they typically reach a level of independence that does not require additional assistance. If the need for care increases, a participant may be referred to PCA to be assessed for long-term care services and discharged from IHSP once the long-term care plan is in place.

For more information on the In-Home Support Program, contact one of the following IHSP providers:

  • North Central Philadelphia – Northern Living Center, 827 N. Franklin St. (Call to verify location; opening expected in early July); 215- 978-1360
  • Northeast Philadelphia – KleinLife: Northeast Philadelphia, 10100 Jamison Ave.; 215- 698-7300
  • Northwest Philadelphia – Center in the Park, 5818 Germantown Ave.; 215- 848- 7722
  • South Philadelphia – Catholic Housing and Community Services at St. Charles Senior Community Center, 1941 Christian St.; 215-732-1140
  • West Philadelphia – Lutheran Children and Family Service at West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, 1016-26 N. 41st St.; 215-386-0379

*Names have been changed


CAPTION: The In-Home Support Program offered by PCA helps participants recovering from a temporary health setback bridge the road to independence. (iStock)