In-Home Supportive Services—IHSS—is a California benefits program designed to help people of all ages live safely at home. IHSS pays recipients to hire a personal caretaker, including a family member, to assist with activities of daily living. To be eligible, you must be 1) a California resident, 2) qualify for Medi-Cal, and 3) either be at least 65 years of age, disabled, or blind. IHSS is an alternative to out-of-home care and is administered by county welfare departments under the authority of the California Department of Social Services.
IHSS pays up to 283 hours per month for services; the hourly wages differ per county. This means that a parent, relative, or other caretaker can potentially earn more than $4,000 a month assisting their loved one at home.
IHSS includes the following services:
- Domestic Services: General household chores to maintain the cleanliness of the home.
- Related Services:
- Meal Preparation: Planning menus, preparing foods, cooking and serving meals.
- Meal Clean-up: Cleaning up the cooking area and washing, drying, and putting away cookware, dishes, and utensils.
- Routine Laundry: Washing, drying, folding, and putting away clothes and household linens.
- Shopping for Food: Making a grocery list, travelling to/from the store, shopping, loading, unloading, and storing food purchased.
- Other Shopping/Errands: Includes 1) shopping for other necessary supplies, and 2) performing small and necessary errands, e.g., picking up a prescription.
- Non-Medical Personal Services:
- Respiration Assistance: Assisting recipient with nonmedical breathing related services such as self-administration of oxygen and cleaning breathing machines.
- Bowel and/or Bladder Care: Assisting the recipient with using the toilet (including getting on/off), bedpan/bedside commode or urinal; emptying and cleaning ostomy, enema and/or catheter receptacles; applying diapers, disposable undergarments, and disposable barrier pads; wiping and cleaning recipient; and washing/drying recipient’s hands.
- Feeding: Assisting the recipient to eat meals, including cleaning his/her face and hands before and after meals.
- Routine Bed Bath: Giving a recipient who is confined to bed a routine sponge bath.
- Dressing: Assisting the recipient to put on and take off his/her clothes as necessary throughout the day.
- Menstrual Care: Assistance with the external placement of sanitary napkins and barrier pads.
- Ambulation and Getting In/Out of Vehicles: Assisting the recipient with walking or moving about the home, including to/from the bathroom, and to/from and into/out of the car for transporting to medical appointments and/or alternative resources.
- Transfer (Moving In/Out of Bed and/or On/Off Seats): Assisting recipient from standing, sitting, or prone position to another position and/or from one piece of furniture or equipment to another.
- Bathing, Oral Hygiene, and/or Grooming: Assisting the recipient with: bathing or showering, brushing teeth, flossing, and cleaning dentures; shampooing, drying, and combing/brushing hair; shaving; and applying lotion, powder, deodorant.
- Rubbing Skin and Repositioning: Rubbing skin to promote circulation and/or prevent skin breakdown; turning in bed and other types of repositioning; and supervising range of motion exercises.
- Care of/Assistance with Prosthesis and Help Setting Up Medications: Taking off/putting on and maintaining and cleaning prosthetic devices, including vision/hearing aids; reminding the recipient to take prescribed and/or over-the-counter medications, and setting up Medi-sets.
- Accompaniment Services: Accompanying the recipient during necessary travel to and from health-related appointments and/or alternative resource sites.
- Heavy Cleaning: Thorough cleaning of the home to remove hazardous debris and dirt. Authorized one time only and only under certain circumstances.
- Yard Hazard Abatement: Light work in the yard to: 1) Remove high grass or weeds, and rubbish when these materials pose a fire hazard (authorized one time only), or 2) Remove ice, snow, or other hazardous substances from entrances and essential walkways when these materials make access to the home hazardous.
- Protective Supervision: Observing the behavior of a nonself-directing, confused, mentally impaired or mentally ill recipient and assisting as appropriate to guard recipient against injury, hazard, or accident. Certain limitations apply.
- Teaching and Demonstration Services: Teaching and demonstrating services handled by the IHSS provider to help the recipient perform these on his or her own. Certain limitations apply.
- Paramedical Services: Services meeting the following conditions: 1) Activities which recipients would normally perform themselves if they did not have functional limitations, 2) Activities which, due to the recipient’s physical or mental condition, are necessary to maintain the recipient’s health, and 3) Activities which include the administration of medications, puncturing the skin, or inserting a medical device into a body orifice, activities requiring sterile procedures, or requiring a judgment based on training given by a licensed health care professional. Special limitations apply.
How to Apply to IHSS
To apply for IHSS, complete an application and submit it to your county IHSS office. The Application For In-Home Supportive Services is also known as SOC 295. After you apply, a county social worker will contact you to schedule an initial assessment.
The information in this post is not legal advice, nor is it intended to be. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.