Action Inc., which has provided home care to Cape Ann seniors for about 30 years, is removing the benefit from its portfolio of services — but in a manner which the nonprofit believes will cause little disruption to its clients and home care staff.
The Gloucester-based multi-service agency has begun notifying its approximately 200 home care clients in five communities that, as of Jan. 31, 2018, those home care services will be provided by Gloucester-based ABC Home Healthcare.
“For us, it was important to find a partner that shared our philosophy, values and locality because that’s really important to our staff and our clients,” Peggy Hegarty-Steck, Action Inc.’s president and executive director, said Tuesday. “ABC Home Healthcare is absorbing everything, our clients and our home care workers, as well.”
The overarching benefit of the new agreement, she said, is that it provides continuity for clients and staff in what could have been a very disruptive transition.
“Clients can keep their workers and workers can keep their clients and their schedules,” she said. “They’ve matched the rate to make it as comparable as possible to what we do for people. So, the good thing about it is there’s going to be continuity of care for the clients. They don’t need to lose the person that they trust in caring for them. And for employees, they have continuity of employment.”
The home care staff, including administrative personnel and nurses, numbers 78, Hegarty-Steck said.
There is also the Gloucester element.
“ABC is Gloucester-based, so they’re a local agency,” she said. “There’s a Gloucester office and the folks that work there are Gloucester folks. So, like us, they’re based in the community.”
Hegarty-Steck also stressed that no other Action Inc. services or programs will be affected by the change.
Action currently provides its home care services through agencies such as SeniorCare, Element Care and others in Gloucester, Ipswich, Manchester, Essex, and Rockport.
Hegarty-Steck said the decision to cease providing home care service reflects a widespread trend of consolidation within the home care industry, which largely is moving from nonprofits such as Action to for-profit companies such as ABC Home Healthcare.
“A lot has changed in 30 years,” she said. “Home care has become its own industry. As the industry evolved, I think the model changed for what folks need. The other thing is unfunded mandates. Things come through that we have to pay for, but there are no changes to contracts to pay for that. That becomes difficult.”
Hegarty-Steck said Action Inc. has been down this road before, as services it first started in the community — such as Pathways for Children and a food bank that evolved into The Open Door — have spun off into their own independent nonprofit agencies.
“SeniorCare used to be part of Action,” she said. “A lot of agencies started here. We’re almost like a nonprofit incubator in that way. And it’s been really terrific because these places have flourished and gone off and built another level of services. It’s been really good for the community.”
Action Inc. officials said any of its home care clients with concerns or questions about the impending changes should contact Action Inc. right up until the final transition date.
The community action agency, headquartered on Pleasant Street, services a huge portion of the state with a budget of almost $46 million in fiscal year 2016. It has concentrated on providing housing services, education and training, fuel assistance and home weatherization services in addition to home care.
But, as Hegarty-Steck pointed out, community needs change and evolve over time and Action Inc. attempts to chart those changes by performing needs assessments every three years.
“It’s very comprehensive,” she said. “We do focus groups, interviews, surveys and every kind of way you can talk to people you can imagine. Plus we look at data and that tells us what’s going on in our five communities and what the biggest needs are.”
The most recent survey, she said, showed the top three perceived needs are affordable housing, jobs and job training and behavioral health. The latter includes mental health issues and substance abuse services largely fueled by the current opioid crisis.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.