What are home- and community-based services? 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.
What is respite care? 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 we do to help family members in the care of their loved ones.
Are our seniors suffering? How do we compare to other states? Yes, many of our seniors are at risk of hunger. South Carolina ranks 4 th highest for the number of seniors 60 and older at risk for hunger. We are 44 th worst of all the states in our support of caregivers. Even with wonderful non-profits such as Meals on Wheels, who do not accept government funding, we cannot keep pace with the serious needs of our seniors.
Who is served? More than 27,000 seniors. 70 percent of these seniors have incomes below the federal poverty level of less than $800 a month. Half of these seniors live alone. Sixty percent live in rural areas and almost 30 percent are 85 and older.
How many are on the waiting list? Almost 8000 frail seniors. Some senior organizations do not keep waiting lists because the wait would be too long and would provide false hope to the seniors.
What does it cost us? The range of aging services – home-delivered meals, personal care, adult day services, etc. - that help seniors remain in their home cost an average of $1,318 dollars per individual per year. In contrast, persons in Medicaid-paid nursing home beds cost taxpayers anywhere from $25,000 to $37,000 per year. Investing this $5 million can potentially save the state expenditures of more than $30 million in delayed or prevented nursing home admissions over the next few years. Other states have already realized the wisdom of this type of investment and have moved more of their dollars into home- and community-based services.
What are the health benefits of receiving nutrition services, a core component of HCBS? Food insecurity can lead to serious health consequences for older adults. The study indicates that individuals who go hungry are almost twice as likely to be diabetic, are over five times more likely to suffer from depression, and are more likely to be in only poor or fair health.