I need someone to make sure I do my chores...
May 14, 2012 4:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I find help keeping up with life? I need an option between permanent supportive housing and crap, I haven't taken out the trash or paid a bill in three months.

I have (several) severe mental illnesses that substantially impair my ability to cope with the demands of daily life. The day may come when I can trust myself to pay the bills, take out the trash, move the trash from my desk to the trashcan, vacuum, make phone calls that are necessary, get my medications refilled when they should be, etc. That day is not this day, and I seriously have no clue when that day will come.

I rely heavily on self-reporting to my therapy/psychiatric team (in hopes of getting better meds and/or brief social pressure to take care of a particular thing,) and on begging for help from a specific family member. There are several problems with this: I have to realize things are bad, I have to speak up for myself, nothing is fixed until things are Really Bad, I am usually limited to small amounts of progress in one narrow sphere of life, material support is heavily dependent on a particular person's skills/energy level/willingness to help, etc. Plus my specific family member will be moving far away relatively soon, and then there won't be anyone to come and sit in my living room and make sure I put things in garbage bags and open my mail and stuff (that's what I did with my Saturday, BTW: catch up on six months of mail and trash.)

What I'd really like is a social worker who'd stop by, I don't know, every two weeks or something, to make sure I'm not letting the house fall to pieces, etc. I'd even be willing to give them a power of attorney to be able to check and make sure I'm paying my bills.

Things have been bad enough in the past that it's honestly surprising I haven't been homeless and/or subject to a court order for either mental health or financial reasons. But at the moment, I am gainfully employed and have private insurance. My family is not reliable, and I have few friends due largely to extreme social phobia.

I honestly can't think of the name for the kind of service I need - it's like, right now (and for the most part over the last few years) I don't need daily direct supervision; I don't need to be in the hospital and I don't need someone to make sure I take showers. But I need more than visits to therapists and doctors.

Any suggestions?

(In case I haven't already made this clear: I see a therapist weekly and a psychiatrist biweekly, and this is a persistent issue, not something I'm freaking out about due to a single recent depressive episode.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! to Law & Government (13 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I wonder if you could find a home caregiver who would be willing to do this sort of thing?
posted by smirkette at 4:28 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Do you have financial resources to pay for two or three hours of time / week from a personal assistant?
posted by samthemander at 4:36 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You need Intensive Case Management. That's what it's called. Try googling your county and Intensive Case Management. Are you in the U.S.?
posted by Aquifer at 4:42 PM on May 14, 2012 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Where do you live? In Oregon and Southwest Washington -- and possibly other places too -- Easter Seals runs something called its Money Management Program, which is aimed at helping people manage their money so they can stay independent. Clients include blind folks, people with a range of mental illnesses, elderly people whose faculties are declining but can still take care of themselves from day to day, and many others. Volunteer counselors go through a background check and are carefully monitored. Some volunteers just check in once a month to make sure everything is OK and leave the client alone to handle things; others hold the purse strings, pay the bills, and give the client a small allowance; some provide physical budgeting support -- reading bills to the blind, or writing checks for someone who struggles with fine motor control, for example. It's pretty customized to the needs of the individuals.

I briefly volunteered with the Easter Seals Oregon Money Management Program, and was very impressed with how it worked. Follow the link above for info on the program. If you tell us where you're located, I can email the head of the Oregon program to see if she knows contact info for any similar offering where you live -- MeMail me if you'd prefer not to post publicly.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:54 PM on May 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

You might find someone on care.com.
posted by candyland at 5:00 PM on May 14, 2012

My mother-in-law works as a conservator in southern Oregon, doing things like making sure bills get paid for folks who can't take care of it for themselves (often, but not restricted to, elderly folks).

She is often appointed by the courts, but not always. Someone like that might be really useful.

(if you live in the grants pass area, I'd be happy to pass on her contact info. Otherwise, maybe googling conservator might be helpful. Or elder care. )
posted by leahwrenn at 5:16 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You need a home health person to come by and help out. These people typically only work for people with physical disabilities but there are many locales where folks have learned about the use of home care for people with psychiatric disabilities. Independent Living adherents also call these people Personal Assistants.

The Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation (can't do link right now) has been a leader in this area. Look at some of their work, think about the kinds of things you need help with, and how much time it would take to get those needs met. This is the start of creating a job description. Consider contacting a Center for Independent Living to help you find someone.
posted by jasper411 at 7:06 PM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Regarding your bills, it should be possible for you to set up auto-pay through your bank. The electric company (or phone company, or whatever) sends you a bill, you don't have to pay it because they debit your checking account directly. As long as you maintain your balance, you can forget it.

That's what I do. The only bill I directly pay every month is my rent, which consists of walking to the office of my apartment complex and handing it to the manager.

It isn't all that hard to set up. They send you a form, and you fill it out and sign it and send it back. They then use that to prove to your bank that they're entitled to do this.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:20 PM on May 14, 2012

Best answer: What I'd really like is a social worker who'd stop by, I don't know, every two weeks or something, to make sure I'm not letting the house fall to pieces, etc.

This is going to sound super naive and uninformed, but: why not get a social worker?
A friend of mine with severe depression has a social worker who comes by to do just this. She is, however, on disability, which is probably why she qualifies for one.

However, the social worker also refers her to paid services that she doesn't qualify for (at least, that she can't get for free). Thus, she also has access to a professional organizer who comes by, oh, biweekly to help her clean and organize and talk about her feelings about the hoarding and all the stuff...

So, social worker?
If you don't qualify, at least for some solid referrals?
Oh, hell - your therapist ought to have some referrals, too. Maybe you should check that out.
posted by vivid postcard at 7:33 PM on May 14, 2012

The day may come when I can trust myself to pay the bills, take out the trash, move the trash from my desk to the trashcan, vacuum, make phone calls that are necessary, get my medications refilled when they should be, etc.

Echoing above, this is very much something a home health aide could do for you, or a good personal assistant a few hours a week. I would use a service if you went the home health aide route, so they vet the people, or get a personal assistant maybe through a local college with a social work program/human services program so you get a student who wants to do this kind of work long term.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 8:47 PM on May 14, 2012

Well, really, anyone can do this for you - it just needs to be their job to do this for you. I have had people perform this service for me in the form of a nurse, a housekeeper, and as an assistant. My current dog walker would happily do this for me if I currently needed it. The dog walker is 20. The housekeeper was 57. We are not talking about complex tasks so what you need is someone capable, cheerful and organised.

I think snarl has the best ideas for hiring!
posted by DarlingBri at 10:09 PM on May 14, 2012

Best answer: I think the ideas above are all good, but as I'm reading them I'm wondering how the OP would get from the stage of having a bunch of good suggestions to the point of having someone appropriate actually show up and start doing what needs to de done.

The process of calling around, or going to places and talking to people, then making a safe choice and implementing it, sounds pretty daunting from the perspective of someone in OP's position. It seems like you almost need to BE a social worker to get through the process of getting a social worker's help.

My best suggestion would be, print out your question and show it to your therapist at your next meeting. Ask specifically if they can initiate a process to help you get some simple, reliable help.
posted by Corvid at 9:21 PM on May 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all for the suggestions (I wanted to not babysit the thread, as I have a tendency to do.) I have MeMailed those who wanted to know where I am - if I missed someone, please let me know, because I didn't do that on purpose.

For what it's worth, I live for auto-pay: it's why I have a car and an apartment and electricity. It's when new things get mailed to me that everything falls apart, or alternatively where auto-pay isn't an option. For a while my gas bill was getting paid about every five months (whenever I had enough of a remission, or my family member came and helped me dig through stuff and we found a bill and I had enough energy/willpower to take the bill over and write a check and get a stamp and find an envelope and remember to put it in the mail.) They wanted me to verify my ID on their website with a complicated process I never managed to finish, before they'd do automatic payments. Then it dawned on me: just send them about $3 more per month than they'd ever really charged me, automatically (through my bank's automatic check sending service.) When I moved out and changed gas companies, they owed me about $50, even though there'd been all kinds of late fees and stuff.

Meanwhile $13.90 from a medical procedure I had in the hospital program (in September) is possibly in collections. I lost the letter I found that explained it, but I do have a note to myself from February that says I ought to call the hospital's billing staff.

And yeah, I have a (really) hard time actually coordinating stuff. It's taken me four weeks to move from saying "I'm going to put up notes to myself to make sure to get out of bed by 7am" to writing out the notes, for instance. I ran out of one medication this month because I forgot that I never got a refill scrip, and I came down to having one and a half days of my mood stabilizer because it took over a month from the date I got the scrip to the date I mailed it in (I forgot that I DID get a scrip for that one.) I lost my disability W-2 for three months. Etc.

I'm going to try and ask my therapist about this, and also contact my state's mental health department (when I work up the courage, which admittedly may be months from now.) It doesn't look like there's any kind of service like croutonsupafreak mentioned, in my area.

Anyway, thanks again. I heart MetaFilter.
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 6:08 PM on May 16, 2012

« Older L.A. psychiatrist specializing in eating disorders...   |   Eating out with food allergies in New York City Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.