SHERIDAN — “It’s an honor to provide service to these brave men and women,” said Kathie Schonenbach, RN.
Schonenbach is a member of The Hub’s Help at Home team, a licensed in-home care agency. Schonenbach joined the team earlier this year as the point person for in-home services to veterans authorized by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Schonenbach oversees personal care services such as shower assistance and coordinates in-home housekeeping services provided by the Help at Home Team of home health aides and homemakers.
Schonenbach works with her contact at the VA, Carol Chase, also a registered nurse. Together, the two nurses are part of larger teams at the VA and at the Hub to provide in-home services to support veterans in their homes. The VA contracts with community agencies to provide in-home services.
Schonenbach works with another registered nurse, an access care coordinator and a team of homemakers and certified nursing assistants who have additional training to provide services in-home and register with the Board of Nursing with a home health aide status.
Chase works with VA care providers who refer veterans in their care for in-home support services.
“Many veterans aren’t aware that this service exits,” Chase said.
Bob Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy 1959-62, started receiving in-home services authorized by the VA earlier this year.
Jones was utilizing VA medical services in Phoenix before moving to Sheridan. Jones married Jacky Johnstone whose daughter, Jennifer, told Jones about the good VA in Sheridan. Then a neighbor suggested to Jones that he call the VA to see if he qualified for in-home services.
Jones now receives weekly housekeeping services from Help at Home that are provided by the VA. The services are appreciated by Jones and his wife.
“It’s a different kind of nursing, more like a doctor’s office type of nursing,” said Chase of the in-home services support. Chase has hospital experience as a nurse.
“There is constant contact with the veterans,” Chase said. “At the hospital, you would see someone then they’re gone.”
Chase enjoys seeing the progress many of the veterans are making while at home.
Retired Air Force Staff Sergeant Scotty Douglas agreed.
“The program is fantastic,” Scotty Douglas said. “I’m behind it 100 percent through.”
Douglas began personal care services authorized by the VA and provided by the Hub’s Help at Home team four weeks ago.
“After some falls, my kids asked me to get some help,” Douglas said.
Douglas checked with the VA and qualified for help. His VA health provider referred him to Chase who sent the request to The Hub’s Help at Home team. The Help at Home team got going.
“She does a fantastic job,” Douglas said of his home health aide who provides shower assistance and light housekeeping help.
It’s been a long partnership between the VA and Help at Home providing in-home personal care and housekeeping to veterans. The need for such services for veterans continues to grow. Help at Home services are available to individuals age 18 and older and veterans are one group that the program supports. The Help at Home team experienced a 22 percent increase in the total number of veterans served this year from the prior year. This increase in demand for services is a part of the emerging trend for community-based services to support older individuals in their homes when it is the right place for them.
“I can’t imagine working at this job without the Senior Center,” Chase said. “They’ve always been Johnny on the spot. They are well organized and well run.”
Many veterans aren’t aware that they may qualify for such support. Veterans are encouraged to call their VA health care provider to see what is available to them.
By Lois Bell
The Hub On Smith