Seniors, caregivers complain about delays at city's 'one-stop sh - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Seniors, caregivers complain about delays at city's 'one-stop shop' for services

Aging and Disability Resource Center Aging and Disability Resource Center
Jenni Fiorini-Johnson Jenni Fiorini-Johnson
Suzanne Chun-Oakland Suzanne Chun-Oakland
Georgette Deemer Georgette Deemer
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Frank Ramos tried to care for his wife, Nathalie, on his own. But her Alzheimer's Disease and his battle with cancer made it difficult.

His daughter, Jenni Fiorini-Johnson, said her dad called the city's Aging and Disability Resource Center to connect him with respite care and other services.

"By the point that he had reached out to them, he was already in burnout phase," she said.

Fiorini-Johnson said her father called the ADRC in September. Four mother later, he still hadn't gotten directed to the respite help he needed. Meanwhile, his cancer was getting worse.

"By that point he was starting his decline and it just went downhill from there. He lost 40 pounds in three months since that phone call," she said.

The city researched its database and found no record of Ramos' inquiry. But deputy Managing Director Georgette Deemer said there have been delays in connecting seniors with services since the ADRC opened in July.

"We will be the first to admit that there are bugs in the system. But the most important thing is that we get care to these people," she said.

Seniors used to able to go directly to non-profits for help with adult day care, caregiver support, housing assistance and other needs.

Now they have to go through the ADRC for information, eligibility screening and referrals. That "one-stop shop" approach was touted as an improvement to the previous system, but advocates for seniors, service providers and clients complain the system moves too slowly. They say referrals can take weeks or months. 

City spokesman Andrew Pereira said there is work underway to address problems at the ADRC.

"Our staff has been working with the implementation of the new on-stop approach," he said. "They are participating in ongoing training to improve and hone their skills weekly. Going forward, the city is confident the time from referral to service within the Elderly Affairs Division will be reduced."

State Sen. Suzanne Chun-Oakland, chairwoman of the Human Services Committee, is looking into the complaints.

"I believe that the city and county needs to work very collaboratively with the providers, look at how the city is authorizing that direct service care, and try to speed up that process," she said.

In the six months since it started, the ADRC has had contact with more than 4,000 individuals by phone or email. 

Of those, about 2,800 were incoming calls to the ARDC's helpline. Meanwhile, 1,296 initial intakes and 910 support plans were completed.

The city said 4,657 people got registered services from July to December 2014.

Deemer said requests for urgent help should be handled immediately, while standard calls should link seniors with providers within six days.

"We want to know where the delay is happening, if it's in our shop. Is it with the service provider? We just don't know," she said. 

The city said Ramos may have called another office. But Fiorini-Johnson insists it was the Aging and Disability Resource Center. Her dad died in December.

"My father called looking for some kind of answer or somebody to point him in a direction where he can get more answers and more help, and it wasn't there for him," she said.

Copyright 2016 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly