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'We're being left to die' | Homebound seniors complain over lack of care in Sacramento County's in-home services program

As rotting garbage bags pile up in the Del Monte's bedroom, the couple is still waiting for a caregiver from Sacramento County's In-Home Supportive Services program.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Seniors depending on Sacramento County's in-home supportive services program told ABC10 saying the system has failed them, after they did not get the care they needed for more than six months. 

In a small Arden-Arcade apartment, Darryl, 81, and Carol Del Monte, 78, married for 43 years, have transformed their living room into a bedroom. 

"I never dreamed I would end up living like this," Carol said.

They both have medical conditions that prevent them from leaving their home.

"I suffer from spinal stenosis and my wife had two knees operated on and she's got compression fractured discs in her back," Darryl said.

More than eight garbage bags rot in their own bedroom.

"And the garbage can which has been fermenting in there for about two weeks," he said.

The Del Montes say their own dumpster is too far to get to.

"We can't get to it, we can't even get out to our mailbox now," Carol said.

Through Medi-Cal, they've spent more than eight years relying on Sacramento County's In-Home Supportive Services program.

"They're supposed to keep disabled seniors in their homes so they do general things like take out the garbage, do the wash, run errands, shop for people," Carol said.

They came a few hours each weekday, up until about six months ago when they say, caregivers abruptly stopped showing up. 

"No call, no person, nothing, never showed," Darryl said.

"They're telling us that they just aren't getting that number of applicants and our issue is you need to go out and seek applicants, you can't wait for them to come to your office when most people don't even know you exist," Carol said.

The Del Nortes say they've made call after call to complain but still, no help. 

They received a letter from an ombudsperson representing Sacramento County's Child, Family and Adult Services in response.

The letter said although the county is responsible to "assist in finding providers in the establishment of a registry" and "establish a referral system under which potential providers are made known to recipients," a review of their complaint was conducted and they found "there were no inconsistencies with IHSS and/or public authority, following California State mandates regarding service delivery."

ABC10 reached out to Sacramento County's In-Home Supportive Services for comment.

"We cannot discuss a specific case or IHSS client nor can we confirm or deny whether an individual is receiving IHSS services due to confidentiality laws," Samantha Mott, a spokesperson for Sacramento County said.

The statement went on to say "the IHSS recipient acts as the employer for the caregiver and as the employer it is their responsibility to locate, hire, supervise and terminate their own provider. Family service workers assist the IHSS client with hiring a care provider when necessary."

"It's embarrassing, but it's not our fault really," Carol said.

This couple mentioned the only family member they have is a son who lives an hour away and works full time to support his own family, so he can only come every so often.

"It makes you fear that at our age and everything that's going on with them that we're being left to die," Darryl said.

ABC10 took these concerns up to the California Department of Social Services which oversees this program and they pointed us back to Sacramento County.

Sacramento County says if a recipient has concerns about the services they are receiving, they can contact the Department of Child, Family and Adult Services Ombudsperson at (916) 875-2000.  

They also can contact the IHSS Social Worker Supervisor or IHSS Program Manager at (916) 874-9471.

The county added that if a recipient doesn't agree with the IHSS Social Worker's assessment and the hours that were assessed for the recipient, they can file for a hearing by calling the California Department of Social Services, State Hearings Division to request a state administrative hearing at (800) 743-8525.

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