Two Sisters, a Cerebral Palsy Diagnosis, and The Louisiana State Caregiver Support Program That Helps Them Live Happily at Home

Donna and Jennifer, sisters, are incredibly close. Donna has played a major role in helping Jennifer, who has cerebral palsy, since they were teenagers. Donna knows what her sister likes and does not like to better support Jennifer with her personal care, her health, and her day-to-day needs. The sisters like to go fishing, spend time outdoors, watch TV and hangout with family and friends. Donna has had one clear vision for her sister’s future. “Our main goal as a family was always to keep Jennifer at home,” she says.

Their Lifelong Journey Together

After experiencing a stroke in January 2020, Jennifer’s health declined, resulting in more hands-on care and support from Donna. Jennifer spends most of her day in bed now due to weakness, needs her food prepared so that she doesn’t choke, and she finds that talking can be difficult at times. “We get up in the morning, change, clean up, brush teeth, turn the TV on,” Donna says, “I usually get her settled, cook, get the laundry done, then it’s lunch time. After this we try to get some time outside.” Donna works hard to care for and support her sister; but she doesn’t feel alone.

Full-Time Caregiving, Around-The-Clock Help

Jennifer and Donna are participating in the Louisiana Medicaid Monitored In-Home Caregiving (MIHC) services provided by Caregiver Homes of Louisiana. Caregiver Homes pairs caregivers with a care team, made up of a care manager and nurse, who provide ongoing support. They communicate and stay connected through Vela, a caregiver collaboration app which helps caregivers store documents and talk with their care teams. The program also provides a daily stipend to caregivers to help offset certain costs. The payments have allowed Donna to work less so that she can stay focused on caring for Jennifer.

Through MIHC services, Donna and Jennifer have been able to stay in their family home, where they grew up. Along with Jennifer, Donna lives with her husband. Their 12 grandchildren, ranging widely in age, come and go at all times. It’s a busy, happy home. There is always an event or cause for celebration, a birthday, a holiday, or a milestone, Donna says.

Donna credits Caregiver Homes of Louisiana for making it all possible.

“I’ve never found a company that has been as generous, that makes sure that we’re OK and taken care of and makes sure that Jennifer’s needs are met,” she says.

When Home Visits Weren’t An Option, They Had Vela

In addition to routine monthly home visits, Donna says she has relied on Vela to communicate with her care team, particularly during the COVID-19 public health crisis in Louisiana.

“Vela is so much easier than doing all that paperwork,” Donna says. “The chat room is very easy to use to send messages back and forth, and I am not tech savvy.”

Through it all, Donna says she is fully supported. And most importantly, Jennifer has achieved the quality of life that she and Donna have always wanted – a life at home with her family.

“I’ve been through quite a few companies,” Donna says. “Caregiver Homes of Louisiana is by far the best program that I have seen in the state of Louisiana and the best company. I have no complaints.”

Find out if you’re eligible for Monitored In-Home Caregiving in Louisiana.


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