Family Values @ Work

Megan – Rhode Island’s TCI Made Care Possible

Megan – Rhode Island’s TCI Made Care Possible

May 22, 2017

Megan Lomba comes from a family of caregivers. Megan works at a nursing home in Providence, Rhode Island, and moonlights as a homecare provider. One of her sisters is a CNA and medical technician at the same nursing home. Another sister serves in a Home and Hospice program. Their mother, Donna, worked for many years as a senior companion, providing assistance to homebound elderly and chronically ill people.

So when Donna slipped on ice and shattered her shoulder and ankle, Megan and her sisters knew just how to provide the home-based care their mother needed to heal. Fortunately, a brand new Rhode Island paid family leave program, Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI), allowed Megan to take the first four weeks after Donna’s accident to provide around-the-clock care—without fear of losing her pay or her job.

“I got to use TCI when it first came out. For me it was like a little miracle.

Megan says that Donna’s injuries were life-changing. “My mom has vessel problems and has diabetes, but she was living a regular life until her fall.” The ankle was broken in three places, and because of Donna’s chronic illness, reconstructive surgery wasn’t an option. Doctors chose a second approach: pinning the bones together, leaving the joint painful and deformed.

“They didn’t think she’d be able to walk again,” Megan says. “They wanted to put her in a nursing home.” Megan and her sisters were worried that busy nursing home staff wouldn’t have the time to give their mother the intensive rehabilitation care she would need to relearn to walk. They decided they would collaborate on caring for Donna at Megan’s home. TCI made it possible for Megan to provide the first month of constant care. After that, the sisters worked in shifts.

Ultimately, Donna’s recovery took four months. The cost of months of 24-hour care in a nursing facility would have been out of Donna’s reach. “After 30 days,” Megan says, “she would’ve lost her home, everything she worked her whole life for.” And if Donna had had to rely on public funding for her care? Megan knows the taxpayer got a bargain: “Think about it: You pay someone four weeks of TCI versus paying someone for four months of a nursing home.”

The cost savings weren’t the only payoff for Megan. “I thank TCI just even for the experience I got to have with my mom, being able to take time with her. I remember the hugs when I’m trying to take her out of bed. I’ll just never forget it. I know I did everything I could for her.”

In fact, having Donna recuperate at Megan’s home benefited the whole family. Megan says that participating in Donna’s care “showed my kids a little compassion and empathy, and how to care for another person.”

With her daughters’ daily help, Donna relearned to walk and regained her independence. For Donna’s 70th birthday, the family threw a surprise party. But Megan says the real present that day was seeing her mom come through the door on her own two feet. “Whenever I see my mom walking, I just thank God.”

Megan wants leaders across the country to know about the benefits of paid family leave programs like TCI. For anyone with doubts, says Megan, “My mom is a testimony. It works.”

Fact: By 2020 about 40 percent of the workforce will be caring for older parents

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