by Linda Granz, former nursing home social worker
As a social worker in a nursing home, a question I would often hear was "what if my loved one needs something when I'm not there? Should I leave money with him?" You can leave money, but you may not need to; and for security reasons, you shouldn't leave it directly with the resident.
Medicaid generally had a personal allowance of $60 per month left over from the money given to the nursing home for the resident. It was to be used for haircuts, incidentals or to purchase clothing for the resident. The money is generally kept in the patient trust account in the billing office. This account functions like a personal bank account for the resident. When the funds in the account exceed a certain amount, it is transferred to an interest-bearing bank account by the resident accounts manager.
As a social worker, a resident would occasionally ask me to purchase an item. I would go to the patient trust account for the money, the resident would sign for it and I would even sometimes go to stores to make purchases (making sure to submit receipts).
Find out if your loved one's insurance covers incidentals and use the nursing home's trust account. Check it periodically and verify expenditures with receipts.