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COOK COUNTY CONNECTIONS: Supporting Cook County Residents Through the In-Home Support Program

Jun 11, 2021 02:50PM ● By Editor

By Anita Jeziah, In-Home Support Program Coordinator, Cook County MN - June 11, 2021


“They are my life blood. The difference between freedom and captivity. I don’t think I could still be at home without the kind and generous support of my In-Home Support Provider.”   

This is how one service recipient summed up her experience with the Cook County In-Home Support Program. If you talk with other service recipients, you will find that their sentiments are consistent.

Stated another In-Home Support Program service recipient, “Most of my life I have spent working as a caregiver.  First for my family and then for pay and then for my family. I know how hard the work is. The reward of knowing you have made a difference is huge. Most of the time I just took my body, my strength for granted. Not anymore, growing old is hard and going it alone is no good. The hardest thing was admitting I needed help. My In-Home Support Program worker got a lot of grief from me to begin with. At first, I was critical and cranky, but my worker was so respectful and has such a sense of humor. After about a month we settled into a rhythm that works for both of us. Things were going to hell in a handcart, but now it is like I have been given a new lease on life. The people who do this work are amazing and I will be forever thankful for all that they do for me.” 

The In-Home Support Program is a service that assists individuals in our community who have disabilities or who are age 65 or over, in hiring qualified and caring individuals to assist with tasks such as homemaking, errand running, transportation, companionship and/or respite care. Service Providers undergo background studies, possess liability and vehicle insurance, receive regular MN Department of Human Services mandated training and have related work or life experience. Service Recipients and Providers are matched based on the Recipient’s needs and location in the county. Hourly rates are established before services begin, and there are potential funding options in certain cases based on income level and needs. 

Long-term In-Home Support Program service provider Tim MacDonell stated: “I really enjoy working with elderly folks to help them live as independently as possible. I like working in people’s homes or apartments and in the community with tasks that help stabilize their living situation. The clients are great! They really appreciate the help that is given. For me, it’s a good fit. I like working one-to-one with people, and the schedule is very flexible. I have worked part-time in my position for 12 years and it never gets boring.”

Another long-time service provider, who has been with the program for over eight years, noted: “I do enjoy making a difference in people’s lives. That in itself is rewarding. You grow attached to these people too, sometimes to the extended family, and it becomes a lifetime relationship. Some of the people are alone all day, and the only person who comes in and sees them is you; you’re their only access to the outside. Sometimes, as people get older, there aren’t very many friends left, and because they’re incapacitated, they can’t get out and do what they normally would do, in the social realm.” 

She continued, “If you want to make a difference, if you want to have an impact on someone’s life, if you like being helpful and making someone else’s life easier and more enjoyable, then this is a wonderful job! There is a lot of need out there, so if you want to make an impact on someone’s life, this is a good fit. The flexibility is a big positive too. You can have few or many clients; whatever fits into your lifestyle, and every little bit is a help to other people. And a great part is that I can make a little bit of money while doing something I like.” 

Commenting about working with the program during the COVID-19 pandemic, she added, “I appreciated that the county had protocols in place, yet we had the flexibility to decide if we were comfortable continuing with various aspects of the job. That personal concern, taking both the clients’ and our own concerns into account, was greatly appreciated.”   

The program serves all of Cook County. Currently, seven service recipients live on the east end, three live on the west end, and 48 live in the broader Grand Marais area, including up the Gunflint Trail and slightly east and west of town. Of 14 service providers, three live in the Hovland/Grand Portage area and 11 live in broader Grand Marais. 

At this time, there are more individuals needing services than service providers available to meet the need.  While the program currently serves 58 County residents, two service recipients are without a service provider, three are working with a temporary service provider, and two are only receiving partial services. Two current service recipients also have services on hold due to the pandemic. In addition, 11 potential service recipients are on a waiting list.   

If you or someone you know would like more information about making a difference in Cook County by becoming an In-Home Support Program service provider, or would like information about the program itself, please contact Program Coordinator Anita Jeziah at 218-387-3615 or [email protected].  

Learn more about the In-Home Support Program in Cook County at the June 15 Public Health & Human Services board meeting. Contact us via email at [email protected] or follow us on Facebook @CookCountyPHHS  or on Instagram @Cook_County_PHHS to learn more about our work in supporting the health, safety and wellbeing of Cook County.


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


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