Opening Doors: Pennsylvania’s New Initiative Encourages Residents to Make Room for More

An elderly man sitting beside the womanPhoto by Kampus Production on

HARRISBURG, PA — In an unprecedented move, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) has initiated its maiden marketing campaign, christened “Open Your Door”, promoting its Domiciliary Care, or Dom Care, program. The campaign is aimed specifically at Pennsylvanians with a spare room and a willingness to share their homes and lives with someone seeking companionship and support.

Dom Care’s unique approach enables providers to transform their homes into welcoming spaces, providing family-like living conditions and day-to-day supervision to adults aged 18 and over. This ground-breaking model caters to individuals who struggle to live independently, yet do not necessitate the care provided by long-term facilities. In exchange for their hospitability, Dom Care providers are rewarded with monthly compensation and the emotional satisfaction that comes from aiding others and forming new connections.

Secretary of Aging, Jason Kavulich, threw light on the initiative. He said, “The Dom Care program offers a person the opportunity to live in a safe, caring home. The Department is truly grateful for the homeowners who have served as Dom Care providers over the years. We encourage everyone in the counties offering the Dom Care program to consider hosting a community member who needs some extra support and a place to call home.”

Currently, the program has presence in 31 counties across Pennsylvania, including prominent places such as Philadelphia and Lancaster. However, to become a Dom Care provider, an individual should be at least 21 years old, and certification from the local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) is a prerequisite.

Explaining how the program works, the PDA elaborated that the AAA pairs Dom Care providers and residents based on their needs and interests. To ensure compatibility, a trial visit is arranged before the resident moves into the host’s home. The resident will be provided with a furnished bedroom, three nutritious meals a day, help with personal care, laundry, and medication, and transportation for non-emergency medical appointments. The AAA also continually manages the care provided to the residents and supports the providers.

The residents compensate their Dom Care providers with a monthly payment determined by the Department of Aging. For individuals receiving Social Security Income, the state provides a supplement covering the monthly payment and a personal needs allowance.

As it stands, Pennsylvania has 286 Dom Care providers housing 538 residents. Besides the promotional campaign for Dom Care, the PDA has also requested a $5.2 million allocation in Governor Josh Shapiro’s proposed 2024-25 budget. The intention is to augment the capacity of the 52 Area Agencies on Aging to offer and expand unique housing opportunities like Dom Care.

For Pennsylvanians interested in the Dom Care program and desiring to learn more about the qualifications and opportunities, they can contact their local Area Agency on Aging or call 717-783-1550.

The PDA’s “Open Your Door” campaign is not just about providing care; it’s a new perspective on community connectivity, providing a safe space for those in need and offering homeowners an opportunity to make a positive difference. This innovative housing model not only promotes compassion but could also redefine the shape of society, one open door at a time.

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