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Adult Family Care Provides Essential Supports

We approached the home in the afternoon, just before everyone returned from school. The mother was late to meet us. She was busy. There was toys and adaptive equipment throughout the first floor of her home. She sat down with a sigh; she looked exhausted. I looked at her and smiled. I introduced myself as the Director of the Adult Family Care (AFC) program and asked how we could help her.

She looked around her kitchen, and then wearily turned to us and responded, “Anything you could do to lend a hand around here would be appreciated.” I then explained to her what the AFC program was.

Defining Adult Family Care

The Adult Family Care program provides financial and clinical assistance to qualifying family members and their caregivers.

Minuteman Arc Adult Foster Care Team
The AFC team from Minuteman Arc includes from left, Lori Davis, RN; Mieke Monen, Director of Residential Services; Kathy Kopitsky, AFC Director; and Ashley Poor, Care Manager

We work to assist in caring for loved ones at home. We support all people who, because of medical, physical, cognitive or psychiatric problem, cannot safely live alone.

To be eligible a member must be on MassHealth and need help with Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) on a daily basis. That is, they must need help with mobility in or outside of the home, bathing, dressing, toileting, eating or transferring. A registered nurse and care manager conduct the assessment to determine eligibility. The assessment is an extended and detailed conversation about the sort of help your loved one needs.

The AFC program provides assistance through monthly visits by the nurse or care manager or both, networking opportunities, training and financial support. The financial support would be useful to help with acquiring respite services and other pay-as-you-go services. We can also help caregivers locate community resources.

The role of the family

As the qualified caregiver you have responsibilities too. To qualify as a caregiver, there is an application process and a home inspection that needs to be done. We will also complete a criminal history (CORI) check. These items will be taken care of before we do the assessment for eligibility discussed earlier.

The van pulled up and Ron emerged. He ran into the house, looked at us briefly and then ran upstairs. Mom smiled sheepishly. I raised my hand and said, “No need to apologize. We understand. Now, shall we get started on the paperwork?”

Adult Family Care through a Provider’s Perspective

Kathleen Kopitsky
Kathleen Kopitsky

I first took on the Adult Foster Care (AFC) program as a part time project. It has grown so rapidly that I quickly began to work on it full time. After 25 years of working in group homes and day programs, the change in job responsibilities was welcome. And although I will admit that pouring over regulations and standards is not the most exciting way to spend your day, this work has been wonderful.

Much of my career in human services has been with adults, some of whom spent many years in our state institutions. Their families long gone or maybe they just gave up hope that anything better would or could happen for their loved one. I became their surrogate family.

Families face unimaginable challenges

I confess I never gave much thought to the families of the people I helped move out of the institutions; didn’t see much point to it since we never met. I never considered the difficulty of birthing and raising a child with a disability. I never considered the heart-wrenching decisions that need to be made that leads to institutionalization. Never thought about the sacrifices and the adjustments a family makes. Never thought about a time when institutionalization was the only humane option in this country.

I quite honestly, did not give much thought to how families manage life when a member has a disability or a debilitating disease. I simply had no idea of the lengths to which families go to take care of each other and a member with special needs. That may be a reflection of my own family experience; it is clearly a reflection of my ignorance.

Then I had the honor of meeting some of the families in our AFC program. WOW! I had no idea. What a privilege it is to know these families. They move mountains and create miracles every day. I stand in awe.

Adult Foster Care prevents institutionalization

I did not know about the AFC program until I stared working on it. Now I want everyone to know that there is help, both clinical and financial. Gone are the days when institutionalization was the only option. With the AFC program, we can help and support families who choose to take care of a loved one at home. Our aim is to help delay or totally prevent the need for institutional care. There are ways; and we can assist. Let us know how Adult Foster Care may help you or someone you love.