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Local Jewish nurses create CARE program to aid elderly
By Shani McManus
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
September 30, 2009

L-R: Sonia Paz, Michele Farkas and Terry Adler (Mike Slaughter, FPG / September 17, 2009) Many South Florida Jewish elderly, who want to remain in their homes but need extra medical care, are often faced with a dilemma.

How do they afford the cost of medical care without having to give up living independently?

Cognizant of this problem, two Orthodox Jewish registered nurses joined together to form the Community Connections CARE Program. They claim CARE reinvents the concept of aging in place and community care-giving, and is a unique model for maintaining independence, and emotional and physical well being in a familiar environment, while being sensitive to each of its client's financial limitations.

Michele Farkas, a former nursing administrator for a large home care agency that serviced the predominantly Jewish Orthodox populations of Williamsburg and Boro Park, in Brooklyn, N.Y., who now resides in Boynton Beach, and Terry Adler, married to a physician, and who started a home-care company in Miami-Dade, founded the program.

"What our CARE Program does is create a self-sufficient community within an already existing community," Farkas said. "We combine the needs of several clients and provide their own caregiver who sees to their needs throughout the day."

The caregiver circulates amongst the clients to ensure that their needs are being meet, whether they require assistance with personal care, shopping, medication reminders, or household tasks, Farkas noted. "All of this is done by a certified caregiver under the supervision of a licensed registered nurse and state licensed healthcare companies."

The nurses noted that there are Holocaust survivors and older adults who could benefit from some assistance, but don't need an extensive amount of hours and don't meet the minimum requirement imposed by most home care companies for services. Moreover, Medicare does not cover routine assistance even if there is a need, they said, but only covers short-term care after an incident or accident.

"Seeing a need for an alternative, we created our own network where several clients with similar needs are grouped together and receive supportive care from a certified caregiver who is monitored by a registered nurse," Adler said.

"By grouping clients with similar needs together we can provide an entire day of service with the clients only paying for a fraction of the cost. The additional benefit of this is that the group has the opportunity to socialize as they can do shopping and errands together and can even plan joint meals, attend synagogue, and plan activities all while remaining in their own home and community," she noted.

"With medications and their care and health being monitored, accidents and illness are greatly reduced and there is a dramatic improvement in their quality of life," she said.

Farkas takes it one step further. "Basically, we're trying to think out of the box and get the patients the services they need. We have aides, registered nurses, LPNs, and physicians who are associated with us," she said. "We have a wide network of providers."

There are other advantages to the CARE program, Farkas noted.

"We make personal visits to our clients," she said. "We bring cakes on Purim, and things like that. Being Orthodox nurses, we also can tag kosher kitchens."

When caring for a client who is a Holocaust survivor, their background makes a huge difference, Farkas said.

"My two uncles were Holocaust survivors, and there are things ordinary caregivers don't understand about them," she said. "Things that can trigger bad memories. We train our staff to be sensitive to these triggers."

In addition to giving their clients special attention, there are other benefits, Adler said.
"It's cost-saving for the families of the patients," she said. "There is also a licensed nurse looking after their loved one. They are not getting someone off the street. And it allows them to age at home with dignity and independence."

For more information on the CARE program, call Michele Farkas at 561-740-7920 or email RN@homewithhelp.com for Palm Beach County, or Terri Adler at 305-403-2622 or email at Classiscare2004@yahoo.com for Miami-Dade and Broward.
Florida Jewish Journal
Copyright 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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