For many people, aging means everyday tasks can become more challenging or even impossible.
One such task is trimming toenails.
Jason Jones, the administrator of the administrator of Integrity Home Care + Hospice, said when feet and toenails are left unattended, it can lead to issues such as ingrown toenails and fungal infections. Because of this, it is important that people, especially seniors, are able to take care of their nails.
“We find that routine trimmings and the routine maintenance for these people really helps out their life,” Jones said.
Until recently, Integrity was one of multiple home health agencies offering foot clinics at the Cache Senior Center. These clinics include a foot soak, toenail trim and lotion application for a fee of $10.
Giselle Madrid, director of the senior center, said for years both Integrity and Rocky Mountain Home Care and Hospice offered these clinics at the senior center. At first, the services were free, but in order to offset the associated costs, a fee of $10 was charged by the agencies.
Compared to the alternatives, Madrid said this still made the service very reasonable since many insurance plans charge people a $50 co-pay each time they visit a specialist like a podiatrist.
For a while, Madrid said the foot clinic services were offered once a week. Although Rocky Mountain had originally held clinics once a month, they added days and began coming three times a month. Integrity provided services once a month, so clinics were offered each week.
Recently though, Madrid said changes at Rocky Mountain meant they had to discontinue services.
“Rocky Mountain was very generous with their time. We are very appreciative of the time that they did offer for the clients,” Madrid said.
McKenzie Wheeler, the home care coordinator at Rocky Mountain, said this was due to the general CNA shortage right now. If they are able to build up their pool of CNAs again, they would like to begin offering clinics once more.
Beyond the nursing shortage, Jones said it can also be challenging to provide the clinic at such a low cost.
To try and fill the service void, Madrid said she reached out to other home health agencies. Sunshine Terrace began providing a day, which allowed the center to continue offering two clinics a month.
However, the decrease in days means it is harder for individuals to access the services. Many people used to come once a month, but the senior center is trying to space visits farther apart to accommodate more people.
Jim Johnson is one valley resident who has been using the foot clinic for about three years. He said he comes about every three months, and despite the changes, he hasn’t had trouble accessing the service.
“When I used to cut my own toenails, I’d cut the end of my toe off and it would bleed forever,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the clinic takes some stress off of him. He looks forward to coming, he said, and isn’t sure what he would do without it.
“They do a good job, and that is why I continue to come. It’s been a blessing for me,” Johnson said.
Jeri Wright and her husband recently began using the foot clinic services offered at the Cache County Senior Center after they moved here from Boise. For years, she said, they used similar services at their local senior center in Idaho.
“I can’t bend over to reach my toes and they (my toenails) get hard and I can’t cut them either,” Wright said.
Like Johnson, she isn’t sure what she would do without the foot clinic at the center.
“You can get a podiatrist to do it, but they charge you an arm and a leg, and most insurances don’t pay for it. This one I can afford,” Wright said.
Jones said the $10 that Integrity charges doesn’t cover the clinic cost completely. He said they are willing to absorb the cost difference because they view it as a community need and it helps them build relationships in the demographic they serve.
“As we work with them, we have the opportunity to continue and build that trust with them and to do home health with them,” Jones said.
Because there is such a high demand for the service, Madrid hopes the center may find other agencies or professionals in the valley who would be willing and able to provide foot clinics.
“It is a need. We see the need. For whatever reason, clients are still looking for this service. A lot of people can’t afford that $50,” Madrid said.