MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A disabled Maryville man can’t get caregivers to show up at his home, even though the state is paying for the service.
TennCare has provided Jeffrey Aldridge’s caregiver service for years, but recently providers haven’t been showing up. He told WATE that no one from the caregiver service that the state hires have shown up at his home since May 17. His parents said that over the last few months, Jeffrey’s caregiver service was hit and miss.
WATE reached out to TennCare about the issue and now, some action is being taken.
The Maryville-based Caregiver of Tennessee is contracted by the state to provide Jeffrey with service five days a week for seven hours a day. For the first two weeks of May, Jeffrey received therapy at a rehab facility. He came home on May 13. Since then, no caregiver has shown up.
“He doesn’t get the care that he is promised. They say they’ll be here five [days a week] seven [hours a day], but they’re not. And, they don’t let me know when they’re not coming,” said Arnold Aldridge, Jeffery’s father.
The backup policy for Jeffery’s caregiver service states if a staff member will be absent or late for a shift, the individual or family member will be notified. Jeffrey’s father and stepmother are supposed to be notified when a caregiver or backup doesn’t show up.
“And they don’t send backups. It is always the same. Short on staff,” said Jeffrey. “It’s the same excuse, no staff.”
“No backup, there is no backup. No backup has ever come. Any time anyone is out, no backup ever comes,” said Arnold.
“I think it’s bad that he has been treated this way. And not getting any help!” said Junie Aldridge, his stepmother. “He should be getting the help that they promised him.”
Arnold and Junie worry about Jeffrey’s safety and well-being when he is left alone during the day with no caregiver assistance.
After WATE got in touch with the state, we were told TennCare does not pay for services that are not received. TennCare also wrote that the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, DIDD, is in the process of looking for residential services thru Tennessee’s CHOICES program.
TennCare is also exploring other service options such as a home health aide. But all of this will take time and still, no one from Caregiver of Tennessee has been to Jeffrey’s home in more than three weeks.
“I think they should be penalized when they are not here. There should be some kind of penalty when they don’t show up,” said Arnold.
Arnold and Jeffery said the state has told them to expect a caregiver at Jeffrey’s home by sometime next week. For Jeffrey, that information is great news.
We reached out to Caregiver of Tennessee for comment, but we have not heard back. However, they did contact the state saying they are actively looking for a permanent replacement for Jeffrey and expect to have an interim caregiver soon. The director of the service told the state, he would personally fill in occasionally when no one showed up.
A report, released by the state comptroller last year, found that Tennessee has a critical shortage of paid caregivers who help elderly and vulnerable adults continue to live in their homes. The problem centers around two issues: a high turnover rate among caregivers, and an increased need because of the state’s aging population.