PASSPORT Program Supports Independence at Home

PASSPORT consumer, Ralph Griffith (shown center) credits his Interim Home Health Nurse, Kira Brooks, LPN, (at left) and the Buckeye Hills Home Modification program coordinator, Joe Gage, for helping keep him at home, where he prefers to be.

Nestled in the beauty of the Hocking Hills near Logan, Ralph Griffith is at home where he prefers to be. The Ohio PASSPORT waiver and Home Modification programs, administered locally by Buckeye Hills Regional Council through its Aging & Disability program, are supportive resources that help him stay there.

Growing up on a family farm, Ralph enjoyed working hard, driving tractors and more. Yet, he developed juvenile rheumatoid arthritis at a young age. The disease has impacted his mobility ever since. Years ago, he was forced to leave a job he loved with the Hocking County Engineer’s Office and to give up farming. Today, he enjoys being independent in his home with support from PASSPORT.

“Most seniors we encounter prefer to stay in their own homes, in the communities they know and love,” said Aging & Disability Program Director Jennifer Westfall. “Before Medicaid waiver programs, older adults who needed long-term care would eventually be in nursing facilities. The PASSPORT program helps Medicaid-eligible seniors, like Ralph, get the services and support needed to stay at home, all the while saving taxpayer dollars.”

According to the Ohio Department of Aging, PASSPORT is a two-pronged program. The first part is a pre-admission screening by telephone to determine preliminary Medicaid eligibility and care needs, and to provide information about the variety of available long-term care options. The second part of PASSPORT is home care. Once an individual is determined eligible, a case manager works to develop a package of in-home services delivered by local service providers. The case manager then monitors the care plan for quality and needed changes.

Last year, PASSPORT allowed about 1,280 seniors in Buckeye Hills’ eight-county region to remain at home for a fraction of the cost of nursing home placement. PASSPORT is designed to promote independence for individuals at home with long-term care needs such as; personal care, home maker services, home medical equipment, respite services, home delivered meals and minor home modifications, to name a few.

“We were able to coordinate Ralph’s new covered handicap accessible deck with slip resistance to the entrance of his home with support from PASSPORT and the Ohio Housing Trust Fund programs,” said Buckeye Hills Home Modification program coordinator, Joe Gage. He added that the contractor was Debbie Streight, one of the only female contractors in the region. “She is very knowledgeable with handicapped access abilities and is always straight forward with the consumer in sharing what work will be done.”

“This new ramp is 200 percent better than what Ralph had before,” said Interim Home Health Nurse, Kira Brooks, LPN.

Ralph explained that he was headed for a nursing home before he learned of programs that could help support him at home.

“I was proud to work and to serve the taxpayers, but when I couldn’t work any longer, I was so fortunate to have these ladies who care for me and who know about the help available,” added Ralph. “I have a quality of life now because each one has helped me in so many different ways.” Ralph receives personal care support and homemaker services such as house cleaning and laundry, as well as assistance with his medications.

“This ramp has been a blessing,” said Interim Home Health aide Anna Tipton. “He is not as depressed and gets out more with Lady (his companion dog).” Anna added that she enjoys being a home health aide. “I used to work for a nursing home and it’s just not possible to give one-on-one attention and care like we can in the home setting.”

The Buckeye Hills Aging program has certified specialists in information and assistance ready to help caregivers and families connect to services whether it’s PASSPORT or other community options. Call 1-800-331-2644, or visit