In Illinois, there are two programs for disabled persons to provide them with help at home. One is DORS, and it’s for those under age 60. DORS is administered through the Illinois Department of Human Services and provides services to individuals with disabilities so they can remain in their own homes and live as independently as possible. DORS, personal assistants are selected, employed, and supervised by individual customers. That means the personal assistant (PA) gets to meet the client and see the premises before they agree to take the job and/or before the client agrees to hire them.
For those age 60 and over, there is the Community Care Program which is administered through the Illinois Department on Aging. Under the Community Care Program, home healthcare agencies (HHA) apply with the state government for approval. The agencies then hire “home makers” which for all intents and purposes perform the same work as personal assistants under the DORS program.
HHA’s train by having applicants watch 16 hours of videos. The agency I am assigned to includes in their recruitment material, “No previous experience required”. That speaks volumes, clearly indicating that clients, many of whom are in pain or feel lousy and need assistance, are expected to provide on-the-job training.
Before age 60, they seem to think that disabled persons are capable of interviewing and orientating persons who are going to be in their homes. The attitude I have experienced from HHA agencies and various personnel with the Illinois Department on Aging, is that once people live to see their 60th birthday, they are stereotyped as elderly patients whose minds have stopped functioning and who can be disregarded as long as they are patronized.
From March 19th through May 30th, I’ve had 3 or more hours each day, Monday through Friday, consumed by homemakers and/or the agency that assigned them. It turned out to be the most stressful and inconvenient thing I’ve ever experienced. Geez! Homemakers were expected to make my life easier. I should be enjoying evenings and weekends instead of being exhausted and at times, traumatized.
My experience with the Community Care Program lasted less than 3 months but seemed like a year and thus, the reason this post is longer than most posts that I write.