Saturday, April 11, 2009

Service in Escanaba Aids Michigan Residents With Long-Term Care
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ESCANABA - Trying to find the best and most affordable long-term care for a loved one can be a frustrating and complicated search. That's why the Escanaba-based Upper Peninsula Commission on Area Progress (UPCAP) began its U.P. Long-Term Care Connections (UPLTCC) service - a single point of entry process that assists people in making the decision of how they or their family member will be taken care of.

When it comes to long-term care, there are many options, some affordable, and some costly. There is also the difficult choice between placing a loved one in a nursing home or adult foster care home, or trying to find the proper care for them at home.

In 2006, Michigan funded four pilot programs to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Single Point of Entry concept. UPCAP Services Inc., was selected as one of these pilots and has provided long-term care information, assistance and counseling to people in all 15 counties of the U.P. since January 2007.

The U.P. Long-Term Care Connection utilizes UPCAP's toll-free 2-1-1 Call Center as a starting point for people wanting information about long-term care.

If the person needs further assistance after speaking with an informed call specialist, they can meet with an options counselor. Bomberg said these counselors specialize in knowing as much about long-term care as possible.

"Our responsibilities are two-fold," said Bomberg. "We're there to help the individual or family make an informed choice of where to have long-term care provided, and also to ensure people who are looking to the state for money, that they understand the eligibility criteria. We work with everyone regardless of income."

Bomberg said the counselor's job is to spend time with the person and family client to help them make informed decisions.

Options counselors also address the delicate issue of financing long-term care.

"They meet face-to-face with the client and are very straight forward

about costs," he said. "That really wasn't happening before. There weren't intensive discussions about cost and no talk of less-costly alternatives... how much is it to stay home, or that an adult foster care home may have different pricing packages that may suit a person better..."

There are 20 options counselors working in the UPLTCC program who serve the entire Upper Peninsula. UPLTCC Options Counselor Mary Ross said she received intensive training to become a counselor, and continues her training as new information and situations arise.

"We're trained on anything and everything from the technical Medicaid policies to how to deal with grief and death," she said. "(UPCAP) has pulled counselors from all walks of social work and gives them very intensive training. The counselors all have something to offer and can offer different perspectives."

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