Everyone has a time in their life when they need a little help. While some can rely on family or friends to lend a hand, others cannot. Some may have more intensive needs. In such cases, Sacramento County’s In Home Supportive Services may be able to help.
“IHSS is a Medi-Cal benefit offering in-home care for individuals to remain safely in their homes. IHSS is an alternative to institutional care,” says Jeannette Johnson, Sacramento County Human Services Division Manager. “The state pays a care provider … to provide services such as bathing, dressing, grooming, housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation and clean up, grocery store shopping and protective supervision.” The IHSS recipient is the employer and hires, trains and supervises the care provider.
Sacramento County currently serves over 33,500 IHSS recipients, nearly half of whom are 65 or older. While a majority of recipients live with a relative, 20% live alone. Statewide, over 1.1 million people are enrolled as recipients and caregivers. The program enables low-income individuals who are 65 or older, blind or disabled—including children—to stay in their homes by paying for care providers to help with activities of daily living and prevent unnecessary placement in institutional care.
“It’s a safety net,” explains Johnson. “For people living alone, they’re more at risk, they’re more vulnerable than someone who is living with family. IHSS is keeping people safe by keeping them in their homes with a care provider and someone checking in on them.”
IHSS eligibility guidelines include:
• California residency
• Must be eligible for Medi-Cal
• Must require assistance with ADLs (activities of daily living)
Based on a recipient’s needs, the county authorizes payment for a number of hours and a variety of ADLs, including:
- House cleaning, meal preparation and clean up, grocery shopping and other errands, laundry, and accompaniment to and from medical appointments.
- Personal care services such as feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, oral hygiene, bowel and bladder care, ambulation, transfers, and assistance administering medications.
- Paramedical services such as insulin injections, colostomy care and wound care that are ordered under the direction of a licensed medical professional.
- Protective supervision of recipients who are mentally impaired or mentally ill and non-self-directing.
For those who think they could benefit from IHSS services, applications can be taken by phone, mail or fax. Here are some details:
- If not already receiving Medi-Cal, applicants must apply and be approved for Medi-Cal benefits. IHSS can communicate with the Department of Human Assistance and have an application mailed out.
- Applicants must have their doctor complete a health care certification form to verify needs.
- A social worker will conduct a home visit to assess needs and the applicant’s living situation.
- Once approved, IHSS family service workers can help recipients select, interview and hire a care provider.
IHSS is looking for caregivers! According to Johnson, common to the service industry, there has been a shortage since the COVID pandemic. Benefits include an hourly pay of $16.50 per hour, direct deposit, sick leave pay, some health care benefits, flexible schedules depending on recipients’ needs, as well as professional development through the California Department of Social Services’ Career Pathways program. The Career Pathways program provides a number of complimentary online and in-person training courses and also provides stipends to care providers that take the training.
“It’s a great job for somebody who is looking into a nursing career or medical assistant career,” says Johnson. “It’s a great way to get experience if someone is planning to work in the health care field and learn what it’s like to help people with personal needs.”
For many care providers, balancing work and home is a little easier when your client is family. According to Johnson, family members make up a majority of IHSS paid care providers.
“A care provider could be a mother caring for their child or an adult child caring for their parents, a neighbor or a friend. It could be someone living in the home that’s actually caring for a loved one,” she says. “A lot of people don’t think of a family member getting paid to provide care, but they certainly can.”
To submit an application for IHSS services over the phone, call 916-874-9471 for guidance and assistance. For more information about IHSS, visit www.cdss.ca.gov/in-home-supportive-services. For more information about Medi-Cal eligibility and applications, visit www.dhcs.ca.gov or www.coveredca.com.