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COUNTY CONNECTIONS: A Look at the Daily Life of an In-Home Service Provider

Jun 12, 2020 08:20AM ● By Editor
By Cook County In-Home Support Coordinator Anita Jeziah from Cook County MN - June 12, 2020


“Holy ----!  That was a bad smell!” exclaimed a Cook County In-Home Support Program service recipient as she recalled an incident that a program service provider had assisted her with.  

She shared how her two kitties like to go outside and that sometimes they bring her little gifts – especially mice.  Usually her kitties drop their gift at her feet to “show off” what they have accomplished.  Evidently, one day, a mouse was brought into her home without her knowledge.  Some time later, a stench developed in the kitchen.  She searched under the sink and through the cupboards, but to no avail.  Not knowing about a dead mouse, she feared that there was a propane leak on her stove, so stopped using it and worried what the cost would be to get it repaired.

When her service provider arrived for her next visit, she noticed a bad smell in the kitchen and knew right away that it was not the smell of a propane leak, but of a dead animal.  As she searched for the source of the smell, she looked under the stove.  Hmmm, she thought, looks like a dust bunny.  She got out her cell phone and turned on the flashlight, only to discover the dead mouse.  Taking a rag, she doused it with Clorox spray and used a rubber band to attach it to a long wooden stick.  Carefully sliding the rag/stick under the stove, the service provider was able to remove the mouse and appropriately dispose of it outside of the house.   

No two days are the same for an In-Home Service Provider, although this incident is certainly not typical.  As a rule, this provider would spend the bulk of her time in this service recipient’s home cleaning the bathroom and kitchen, dusting, sweeping, mopping and vacuuming.  Since there’s a need and she has the comfort level, she also trims one of the cats’ nails on occasion. 

“But,” she says, “this job is not that of a glorified maid!  I like the people interaction.  What I do matters.  It’s having an impact.  It allows me to meet and work with people from many walks of life, many of whom I may not have gotten to know otherwise. My life has been both touched and enriched by the people I serve.” 

And another service provider states, “I have found this work extremely satisfying. You’re meeting needs that, if left undone, might be detrimental to that individual. It’s coming alongside to lift them up, spirit, soul and body. I love seeing how things change for them; it affirms them, it brings honor to their existence, if done with respect….”

So, what is the Cook County In-Home Support Program?  The In-Home Support Program matches service providers with elderly and disabled adults in the county to provide services such as homemaking, home management, transportation, errand running and respite care.  The program serves county residents age 65 or older and individuals of any age who have a permanent or temporary disability.  

It’s not uncommon to hear a client say, “I don’t know what I would do without your program.” The service recipient featured above says, “I’ve received such help over the years!  I feel lucky.”

COVID-19, of course, has introduced some extra challenges, such as social distancing, limited activities and wearing of masks.  But providers and recipients have been up to making the changes necessary to continue with quality services.  Their ongoing flexibility and resilience is amazing.

The program is currently in need of a new service provider.  A potential service provider is passionate about enhancing the quality of life for elders and disabled individuals living in Cook County and should have a background in cleaning and/or working with frail/vulnerable individuals with tasks in their homes.  Providers work as independent contractors for Public Health and Human Services, and flexible work times are determined between them and the people they assist.  Potential service providers must pass a background check prior to hire.

For more information about the In-Home Support Program, contact Program Coordinator Anita Jeziah at 218-387-3615 or [email protected]

County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service