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HANDI Program at St. Charles Community

Posted on: June 28, 2019 8:00 am
Tags: St charles,

St. Charles Community (SCC) is reaching beyond its walls to provide care to elders in Northern Kentucky. 

In 2017, SCC utilized the findings of two community assessments to develop the St. Charles’ Community Benefit Plan for 2017-2020. The overall goals of the plan are to inform, educate, empower, and research for new insights and solutions in the service of the senior population. The SCC board sought to increase community outreach, especially through service to elders with financial need that impacts their access to healthcare and assistive devices and services.

[This article was originally published in the Spring 2019 issue of The Pulse. Click for PDF.]

SCC Senior Resource Counselor Margie Volpenhein (pictured above) responded to this charge from the board and began reaching out to senior centers in Northern Kentucky to determine possible partnerships and identify needs in the region. When she initiated contact with the Northern Kentucky Area Development District (NKADD), the Helping Adults in Need Develop Independence program, or HANDI, took off at St. Charles.

“I attended a NKADD meeting and met social workers who began contacting me,” Margie said. “I would get occasional referrals and now I’m getting calls every day.”

Since fall 2018, HANDI has provided assistance to 37 individuals. Many more referrals have come through, but either St. Charles was unable to accommodate the requests or the individual declined assistance or found other arrangements. The majority of the fulfilled HANDI requests have been for mobility and adaptive devices. Many referrals, however, are for furniture, transportation, and most alarming, food.

“Transportation is a huge issue,” Margie explained. “The TANK [Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky] disability service is an option, but is stretched and many of the individuals can’t do Uber or Lyft because they don’t have a phone.”

“The other big issue is food. Sometimes it feels like a band-aid delivering food to someone, but it’s something we can do until they’re off the Meals on Wheels waiting list and not wondering, ‘Should I eat or should I get medicine this month?’”

Margie explained that although her role means being confronted daily with the reality of great need in the Northern Kentucky area, it has been very rewarding to meet interesting people and to visit and connect while delivering an item or groceries.

“One woman sent a note saying she can now sleep at night because she has a full belly,” Margie shared.

Another example that touched Margie’s heart is a local veteran who was referred to her. This individual had experienced homelessness and found housing in a subsidized community, but did not have any furniture. Around this same time at St. Charles, the community was saddened by the sudden death of a resident. When the family came to retrieve items from the room, they notified SCC staff that they would like to donate their loved one’s furniture if someone could use it.

“So, we were able to give this gentleman a couch and he said it felt like he went to heaven because he had a place to sit and a place to be,” Margie said.

Identifying and responding to individuals’ needs is not new to Margie. Her background is in social work. She coordinated the home health outreach at St. Charles Community for 14 years and oversaw admission at the former St. Charles nursing center. Altogether, Margie has worked at St. Charles for 34 years.

“Now I’m here doing things I never thought I’d be doing and it’s just because of the Sisters of Notre Dame and St. Charles Board  saying, ‘There’s a need, can you help with this?’”

Items provided through the HANDI Program

  • Food
  • Microwaves
  • Rollator Walkers
  • Shower Chairs
  • Elevated Toilet Seats
  • Grab Bars
  • Transport Chair
  • Wheelchairs
  • Electric Skillet
  • Kitchen Cookware
  • Clothing
  • Scale
  • Incontinence Products
  • Furniture

Charlie's Club

Charlie’s Club is another service offered to the local community. It is a day health program for adults over 60. It can provide peace of mind for caregivers, who are often children and spouses, by offering: 

  • Program hours that support the working caregiver: Monday-Friday 7 a.m.-6 p.m.
  • Medication administration, nursing assessments and medical services.
  • Two meals daily.
  • Life enrichment programs and wellness exercise activities.
  • Personal care and grooming assistance.
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy services.
  • Transportation arrangement.

Worried about the cost of Charlie's Club? Margie explained, “There’s no reason why someone shouldn’t come to this because of funding. Through Medicaid, the VA, and our St. Charles Angelic Fund, coverage and grants are available to make Charlie’s Club affordable for all.”

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