Funding for Home and Community Based Services is #1 Priority for AARP SC
Home and community based services (HCBS) prevent or delay frail seniors and persons with disabilities from being admitted to nursing homes. Services include such assistance as personal care aides, adult day services, transportation, home-delivered meals, congregate meals, nutrition education, respite care and other services.
The Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging requested $4.7 million in the fiscal year 2014-15 state budget to serve needy seniors in their homes. The House passed budget approved $3 million in new funds; AARP SC is appreciative of the support from the House and looks forward to working with the Senate to increase funding.
In addition the House funded $2 million for ongoing resources for respite services for caregivers. Respite services support the health and well-being of family caregivers of persons with dementia or other debilitating conditions by providing access to short-term respite through in-home care, adult day care or short-term facility stays. Our state ranks 44th in the nation in support for family caregivers, meaning 43 other states do better than SC to help family members who care for their loved ones. The Office on Aging requested $3 million for respite services so AARP SC will continue to work with the Senate in hopes of increasing the funding from the House approved $2 million.
The support from the House is exciting. It shows that our public policy makers understand the need to invest in home and community based services as an alternative to more costly services.
Caregiving – Helping Seniors Live Independently in Their Homes
The number of South Carolinians aged 85 years or older and most likely needing caregiving assistance will grow 101% from present day to the year 2032. Based on an AARP SC survey, most older adults who need assistance with the activities of daily living want to remain in their homes and communities, an alternative that is generally much less expensive than nursing home care. The good news is SC’s policy makers are recognizing the need and respecting the desires of our seniors who, after paying into the system, deserve better than being forced from their homes.
In support and recognition of family caregiving, Governor Haley signed a proclamation supporting the work of the Institute of Medicine and Public Health. The Institute is working to address the needs of family caregivers and to identify solutions and to compile information useful for family caregivers. AARP SC is working with the Institute and was pleased to coordinate efforts with the Governor’s Office.
In support of caregiving, over 100 AARP SC volunteers participated in our annual Lobby Day held on March 5th. As part of the day’s events, AARP State Director Teresa Arnold, joined Lt. Governor Glenn McConnell, family caregivers and AARP SC volunteers to discuss the results of a poll showing overwhelming support for increased funding for caregivers. The survey of 800 registered voters over age 45 also found that more than half believed that they were likely to become caregivers within the next 5 years. The event’s coverage by six television stations across the state included a visit by a news reporter into the home of a family caregiver.
Volunteer Guardians Are Key to Protecting Vulnerable Adults
Did you know that SC does not have a statewide program to assist vulnerable adults who have to go to Family Court? Hopefully that will change with the passage of Senate Bill 764. The legislation establishes a volunteer adult guardian ad litem program within the Lt. Governor’s Office on Aging. It develops a statewide system to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to serve as court-appointed guardians ad litem for vulnerable adults in abuse, neglect, and exploitation proceedings within the Family Court. Duties of the volunteers will include: representing best interest(s) of the vulnerable adult, providing an assessment for court proceedings and submission of written reports to the court.
The bill has passed the Senate and is now in the House Judiciary Committee. Working in partnership with several advocacy groups, AARP SC is pleased to support this legislation and thanks our volunteers whose work has moved the bill forward thus far.