How Teri Got Care in Her Home

Artwork: Robin Mead

– By Teri Birch

I have been living with Lyme Disease since 2007. My disease has worsened over the years to the point I had difficulty caring for my personal needs.

I knew it was becoming too much for my family to handle. So I applied for a Home and Community-Based Waiver Program.

In my state, this program provides:

💮 A home health aide, a nurse, and a case manager

💮 A great deal of support with things like housekeeping, meal prep, running errands, bathing, dressing, etc.

💮 Handicap accessibility in your home such as walk-in showers with hand rails, a free life alert service.

💮 Equipment you may need like a wheelchair, walker, beside commode, etc.

💮 Respite care to give family a break.


💮 This program also provides Medicaid health insurance, which pays for doctors, hospitals. If you are on Medicare, it covers the cost of co-pays, deductibles, and premiums. In some states it provides, vision, dental, and medical transportation. 


There is no cost. If you are married, in some states, the program does not count your spouse’s income. (Note: Financial criteria is different in every state. In many states, you may be able to qualify even if you have too much income for regular Medicaid.).

To Apply

I first contacted the agency in my area that handles waiver programs. They walked me step-by-step through the process. In my area, it is a 90 day approval process. In most states, a person does not need to be receiving SSDI or SSI to receive this program.

It is required to have your family physician or one of your specialists complete a form, which states you meet the long-term care criteria.

If you need this service, my advice is to just be persistent and have a physician who is willing to advocate for your needs.

Medicaid Waivers are designed to keep people out of nursing homes. To qualify medically, you must have a “nursing home level of need.”

How It Works

They give you a list of home health aide agencies to choose from or you could select a family or friend to provide the services, and Medicaid will pay their salary.

I use an agency, but have family friends hired by that agency to provide my care. You ask your family or friends to apply to the agency so they get paid from the agency. Or the agency has their own home health aides you can use. Or you can choose not to use an agency, and select an aide on your own.

Now my family is much less stressed and that makes me feel less like a burden. I feel like I have much more support with getting all the services they offer.

Learn More

How to apply: How To Get a Caregiver Through a Waiver Program

Real life stories and tips from people who have done it: How I Got Approved for a Home Aide

Teri is the creator of the Facebook Group Social Service Connections for Lyme Disease

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