By Andrew Grubb
A local group of community members has proposed a bold new alternative for providing affordable in-home services for residents with mobility and healthcare needs. A meeting at the community center in December, facilitated by Annelle Norman, Dina Boykiw and Chris Cameron was attended by more than two dozen community members.
The goal of the group is to establish a caregivers cooperative that would train and hire local caregivers and pair them with residents who need assistance traveling to appointments, using local amenities and completing tasks around the home. Norman had been part of a group of friends who helped care for long time resident Mary Irving in her final stages of life.
These friends took Irving to doctor’s appointments, checked out books from the library, and made it possible for her to live out her days in the comfort of her
After Irving passed away, the friends discussed the fact that there were no local options for other residents who might prefer this type of service over long-term assisted living. After researching different models, the group discovered Circle of Life Caregiver Co-op in Bellingham, an employee owned caregiver cooperative established in 2011.
The Point Roberts group will be structured on the Bellingham model and affiliated with Circle of Life although they plan to stay flexible given the unique and isolated nature of Point Roberts.
The Point Roberts cooperative will need to be licensed by the state and prospective members will be required to undergo a background test, complete 75 hours of training and pass a final exam to become a Certified Home Care Aid. The course cost is partially covered by Circle of Life. If hired, the new employees can pay their $300 membership fee by deduction from their paychecks.
Caregivers provide the co-op with their hours of availability and the co-op administration is responsible for matching caregivers with those in need and organizing work schedules.
The cost for services for the customer is $25 an hour, and is covered by Medicare and Medicaid.
The Point Roberts group plans to establish an affiliated non-profit that would help cover the cost for those in need of financial assistance. The caregiver would receive a portion of the rate while the remainder would go towards administration. As with all co-ops, all profits accrued are returned to the employees through dividends.
Attendees appeared to be excited about the prospect of this service becoming available in Point Roberts and voiced their own stories of the difficulties caring for those in need. It was noted that currently it is the fire department that responds when a person needs to be “checked in on.”
Organizers have set up an online survey to gauge interest in the service. For prospective CareGivers: http://svy.mk/1z9weM3.
For prospective in home care recipients: http://svy.mk/1BvnGfp.