Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013
Nursing Home Resident Petitions for Change
GOLCONDA -- A Pope County nursing home resident is working to change Social Security one signature at a time. Doris Amelotte has started a petition to raise the personal needs allowance in Illinois.
The personal needs allowance is spending money set aside for long-term care residents. They can then buy items not provided by their nursing home. In Illinois, that's just $30 a month. That's lowest amount allowed by the federal government.
Amelotte moved into the Pope County Care Center three years ago. She uses her $30 monthly personal needs allowance on her cellphone and other small treats.
"It's our social security," said Amelotte. "We worked for it."
As she watched other residents struggle to buy even a few extras with the small amount, Amelotte decided to write a letter to her state senator and representative.
"I just asked, why can't we have more money?" said Amelotte. "That's all I wanted to know."
A response to her question never came. That's when Amelotte got a new idea.
"My lovely daughter kept saying, Mom, the only way you're going to get their attention is with a petition," said Amelotte.
The average amount long-term care residents receive across the country is about $50. As of 2009, Illinois was one of just six states still at the federal minimum. That minimum was set back in 1980s.
Amelotte included those facts in her petition.
"I just let them read it," said Amelotte. "Tell them what the whole deal is."
So far, she's collected about 100 signatures and caught the eye of the Shawnee Alliance.
"It was just so sweet and to the point and specific," said long-term care ombudsman Vicki Patton.
The group tried to get the allowance raised with a 2008 petition. Patton will help to send this new push to different nursing homes in southern Illinois.
"See if maybe it would land on the right desk this time," said Patton. "Somebody would actually care."
Amelotte would be thrilled to see her work make a difference.
"Jubilant," said Amelotte. "They'd probably have one heck of a time holding me down."
It's also an issue she believes should be important to every person.
"You don't know what tomorrow is going to bring," said Amelotte. "You could end up here yourself."
Wind: 12 MPH
Humidity: 51 %