People Incorporated offers Adult Foster Care (AFC) as an option for individuals on MassHealth with chronic health care needs. Individuals in AFC need help with daily living skills but wish to continue living an active lifestyle in the community. People Incorporated also offers a Shared Living program as an option for individuals who are connected with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. Both of these programs allow people to enjoy the comforts and atmosphere of a private home with assistance from a paid family or non-family caregiver.
The AFC and Shared Living programs provide nursing care management and case management to support the family as well as the individual. The registered nurse and case manager schedule regular home visits to monitor the placement, as well as provide any necessary training the family may need. People Incorporated also provides 24-hour emergency support through the use of an on-call system.
The programs shifted to telehealth visits in mid-March of 2020 due to the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. These visits remained monthly and remote until the decision to return to in-person services. This move to return to the homes came with much planning as there were several factors to consider, such as the vaccination status of the families visited and the ability to meet outside or to be able to socially distance. The return was phased in beginning in May of 2021 with all individuals being visited in person by July 2021. The programs remained in-person until the spike in positive cases after the holidays; at that time, telehealth was again utilized from the middle of December 2021 through February 2022 at the request of many of the families we support.
The staff in Adult Foster Care and Shared Living, as well as the families we support, are fully aware that these are fluid times and that decisions are made in an attempt to keep everyone safe. Although the telehealth flexibility remains in place, we are encouraging families to have in-person visits and, for the most part, all are back in person these days. We continue to follow protocols established by the home visiting programs of People Incorporated and plan to do so for the unforeseeable future. It is great to see people in person as the heart of all home visiting programs is the relationship building that happens. Fingers are crossed that we are soon to be passed this difficult period in history.