Group offers housekeeping help to seniors

BLUE EARTH – It’s hard to push a vacuum if you use a walker to get around.

Seniors might find some household tasks more difficult to do as they age. Interfaith Caregivers now has a Homemaker/Chore Program that can assist with that.

“We just want to help people stay in their own homes,” said Cami Hafner, coordinator at Interfaith. “And if it’s just the housekeeping that’s holding them back from staying in their own homes, we can help with that.”

The program is brand-new, she said. Those who are 60 years of age and older and live in their own home or apartment in Faribault County qualify. Interfaith obtained a federal grant and the program is funded in part under the Older Americans Act, through an award from the Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging, Inc., and through donations.

“Through this program, we match volunteers, and sometimes paid workers, with those who need assistance with routine household cleaning, such as washing dishes, dusting, bathrooms, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, changing linens, laundry, watering plants, getting the mail, garbage removal/recycling, and shopping,” Hafner said. “This may be for one-time jobs, short-term needs, or regular bi-weekly cleaning.”

The list isn’t set in stone, Hafner insisted, even as she thought of another duty: writing letters. Many older folks prefer sending letters, but just can’t write them anymore due to arthritis or other conditions that affect the hands.

Anyone who wants to enroll in the program should call Hafner at (507) 526-4684. She’ll set up an appointment with the senior person to discuss what chores need doing, fill out the necessary forms, determine eligibility and answer any questions.

For instance, someone may need ongoing help with various housekeeping duties, while others might have slipped, broken an arm or leg and need temporary help until the cast comes off.

Another reason Hafner needs to know what the clients want is so she can match up the best volunteer to that person.

“Volunteers can pick and choose,” Hafner said.

Some might love to clean a toilet, but won’t wash a dish and Hafner wants to accommodate where she can so that everyone is happy.

Hafner has 21 volunteers signed up for the program but would happily welcome more. All volunteers and workers must complete an application and pass a background check.

Clients will provide cleaning supplies; this is so clients aren’t exposed to agents they might be allergic to or would otherwise prefer to not use in their home, Hafner said.

Clients are asked to pay $16 an hour for the work.

“Those who are unable to afford the full cost may pay a reduced fee based on a sliding scale, or may make a voluntary contribution,” Hafner said.

She stressed that clients should pay Interfaith, not the volunteers.

“They want to help and are doing this out of the goodness of their hearts,” Hafner said.

It’s a simple enough thing for Interfaith to do, Hafner said.

“I’m just pleased we can help people with this,” she said. “To me, it’s an easy fix.”