The money management program at North Shore Elder Services (NSES) is a free in-home service in which trained volunteers assist eligible low-income elders who have difficulty writing checks, balancing checkbooks and/or managing household finances. This service can help an individual maintain independence and stay living in one’s own home.
Heather Harrell is the Money Management Manager and NSES’ expert on the program.
1. Who can best benefit from this program?
“Any elder in the NSES community who is having difficulty managing household finances, overwhelmed with organizing mail, or needs assistance in reading a bill or writing checks. Sometimes an elder has a great informal support system but wants a third party to confidentially and without judgment assist them in reconciling their checking account each month. We also have consumers who are at risk of financial exploitation and would like another set of eyes on their account on a monthly basis to ensure that their account is in proper order.”
2. How is someone referred to this program and who can refer to this program?
“Consumers are referred to the program internally by care managers or protective service workers who are already working with them or they are referred externally by physicians, friends, family, clergy, or themselves.”
3. What are the eligibility guidelines for this program?
“The interested client must have a checking account for bill paying purposes. There are yearly income guidelines to meet. Currently for 2017 the income for an individual is $47,600 or less and $54,400 or less for a couple. These amounts apply to assets also.”
4. What can a person expect to have happen when enrolled in this program?
“When the person is referred to the program, basic eligibility requirements are discussed over the phone and an appointment is scheduled to meet in their home. If for any reason the home is not conducive to a confidential meeting or if the person prefers to meet outside the home, we will arrange for that. We ask the consumer to have their bills, bank statements, and asset information available for the appointment. At the first visit, a budget Interview is conducted, during which all income and expenses will be accounted for with the consumer. We discuss the program requirements, how the program works, and address any safety concerns presented by the consumer. Once accepted into the program we match a volunteer to the consumer. ”
5. Who are the volunteers for this program?
“Our volunteers come to us with various backgrounds and professional experience. We have volunteers with full time careers and families who find the additional time to volunteer and we have retirees who have the extra time to share and take on more than one client. All of our volunteers understand how important financial stability is to maintaining independence and remaining in the community.”
6. Do volunteers receive training?
“During the initial training, a volunteer learns the mission of NSES and the history of the Money Management Program. They learn program requirements and the importance of their role. We also offer other trainings throughout the year with varying topics and speakers.”
7. How does one become a volunteer?
“If someone wishes to become a volunteer they would fill out an online application and provide three references. Once the application has been received and the references are checked we are then able to schedule an interview.”
8. If someone is over the income limits, how can they still participate in the program?
“Elders who are ineligible for the free service can still participate in the same bill payer program by paying a fee for the service.”
9. Does the volunteer have control over someone’s checking account?
“A volunteer does not have control over an elder’s checking account in the bill payer program. The elder signs their own checks and maintains control and ownership throughout the entirety of enrollment within the program.”
10. How is privacy and confidentiality ensured?
“Volunteers are instructed not to have access to log-in information for elders who utilize online banking. Volunteers do not discuss their client’s checking account information with anyone other than the client or the program coordinator. We keep all account information locked at the office and only money management staff are allowed access to account information.”
North Shore Elder Services offers many different programs and services through private donations and state and federal contracts. If you are interested in learning more about the services at NSES or volunteer opportunities, you can call us at 978-750-4540 or check our website at www.nselder.org. If you would like to make a referral for yourself or someone you are caring for, you may also visit our referral page at https://nselder.org/contact-us/referral-form/