A couple of things have become clear to JoAnna Trezise in her role as social services designee at Sterling Village, the long-term-care residence at 204 W. Washington, Sterling.
“First, most people don’t even think about Medicaid as a way to cover the cost of long-term care,” she explained. “For some people, it could be the answer they are looking for.”
And second, even when people wonder if they are eligible for Medicaid, oftentimes they don’t pursue it because of the application process.
“We understand this hesitation but local guidance is available,” Trezise said. “For the time being, we encourage families to contact the Rice County Council on Aging in Lyons for quick assistance with Medicaid applications.”
Before the pandemic, families could come into Sterling Village for direct help with the applications. However, there are now a number of long-term-care restrictions in place.
“We are very knowledgeable about the application process and want to help families with education and advice,” Trezise noted. “Our goal is to help them feel less alone and overwhelmed.”
There is no fee for this service.
Sterling Village cannot submit the application until the elder has been admitted to the residence. But once it is submitted to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS), Trezise monitors the situation and advocates for the family.
“Sterling Village is often a ‘middle-man’ between elders and Medicaid,” Trezise commented. “When we need extra support, the Rice County Council on Aging is a wonderful resource.”
A meeting with the family to start the application process takes about an hour but data collection can take longer. When the application is approved, the state may start services within a month or two.
“It is important to keep in mind that a resident is not eligible for financial help until the application has been submitted to KDADS,” Trezise emphasized. “The sooner it is submitted, the better.”
Medicaid benefits must be renewed annually to ensure continued eligibility. Sterling Village helps with this too.
“Living in a long-term-care residence can be especially helpful for those who can no longer care for themselves at home,” Trezise said. “Most everything is included in Medicaid coverage.”
In addition to 24-hour nursing supervision and assistance, services include housekeeping, maintenance, three meals a day and snacks, personal hygiene assistance and transportation to medical appointments. After the public-health crisis is over, the hair salon will re-open.
In her multi-faceted role of social services designee, Trezise also coordinates services between Sterling Village and outside businesses, families and residents.
“This includes home-health care and/or meal delivery for residents who are here for short-term services such as rehab,” Trezise said, noting Sterling Village offers physical, occupational and speech therapies on-site. “We can help with the transition back to their own homes. I can also help people with dental and mental-health services.”
Other responsibilities are working with volunteers to offer various activities for residents and collaborating with colleagues to address concerns.
“My goal is to do my best to meet elders’ wants and needs,” Trezise summarized. “All of us want elders to feel at home here.”