Elderly Care Programs

April 29, 2011

Supporting Our Seniors

As we ourselves age or begin caring for elderly members in our families, we think about care options available to us. We also grapple with the ever increasing costs of nursing facilities and home care. Fortunately, there are a number of programs in place that can help provide families with proper care options and also relieve some of the financial burdens associated with aging.

The state Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Alternate Care Unit offer a program called the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders. With the realization that nursing facility care may cost upwards of $60,000 annually and that Medicare does not cover those expenses, DSS and the Alternate Care Unit administer this program to seniors who meet certain physical and financial requirements. The Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders helps many folks remain in their homes – surrounded by loved ones – rather than living in a nursing facility. This is all part of a growing initiative called ‘aging in place,’ which comes at a lower cost and provides better care for our state’s increasing aging population.

If you are 65 years of age or older, a Connecticut resident, at risk of nursing home placement and meet certain financial requirements, you may be eligible to be a part of the Connecticut Home Program for Elders. Those meeting these requisites will fall into the program’s three-tired service structure; each tier covering varying amounts of necessary home care. Program clients may receive services such as visiting nurse services, homemaker services, home delivered meals, adult day center services, emergency response system and more. With these services, the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders is able to meet the needs of clients in need of short-term or limited care, to those needing extensive round-the-clock care and monitoring.

In order to provide all of these services, DSS contracts with access agencies. These agencies work to properly evaluate each client’s functionality and then establish an appropriate care plan based on a person’s individual needs.

As the Connecticut Home Care Program is both federally and state funded, it will likely experience financial changes this year. The state of Connecticut is working to fill a $6.2 billion deficit over the next two years, meaning that the programs many of us rely on, like this one, will receive less money going forward. This year, the program is expected to cost the state of Connecticut $55,650,000. Although the costs will remain the same or increase in the coming years, a proposal before the legislature would impose a cut to the program amounting in $600,000 for Fiscal Year 2012 and $626,400 for Fiscal Year 2013. To offset this lack of funding, certain recipients (category 1 of the program) will be required to pay more out-of-pocket. Many of you may recall that in July of 2010, the co-payments for clients in the state funded home care program had been lowered from 15% to 6%, but due to the effects of our weakened economy, increases are quickly becoming a reality. By June 8th of this year, the legislature will pass a budget and it is anticipated that the current 6% co-pay will be raised to 7% as a cost sharing measure. It is uncertain whether or not co-pays will be increased again in the next biennium.

As we continue to work to pass a balanced state budget many of our state’s programs and services will see changes or cuts. While these may be difficult for residents to cope with, spending reductions in the interim will ensure that good programs, like the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, remain viable and in place to current and future clients.

For more information about the Connecticut Home Care Program for Elders, please call 1.800445.5394.