HELENA, Mont. – Governor Steve Bullock today in Billings announced his plans to expand support for Montana seniors and their caregivers.
“We’ve come a long way in supporting Montana seniors and their caregivers,” said Governor Bullock. “These new efforts will ensure that we are providing elderly Montanans and their families and friends the tools to live independently and stay engaged in their communities.”
During Governor Bullock’s first term, Montana became the fourth state in the country to adopt the Community First Choice program, providing long-term supportive care in a home setting for people who would otherwise require institutional care. Montana is just one of 10 states implementing a similar program for Veterans that provides a mix of services that can meet their care needs in their own homes and communities. Governor Bullock has also supported a variety of initiatives to make sure that Montana has the healthcare workforce necessary to care for an aging population.
Governor Bullock is proposing to expand on the great progress Montana has already made by:
- Investing in Services that Help Seniors Stay in Their Homes as They Age by providing additional funding to Area Agencies on Aging for services that help seniors stay in their homes and communities, including home delivered meals, transportation to doctor appointments, information about community resources, and respite care for caregivers. Many of the Area Agencies on Aging have waiting lists for these important programs. The services provided by AAA’s save the state money by delaying or avoiding nursing home care. Governor Bullock will be including an additional $1.5 million of state funding in his budget to help fund services for the growing number of seniors in Montana, including those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
- Investing in Support for Family Caregivers by funding the Lifespan Respite Program. Over 100,000 Montanans are helping to care for adult family members or friends. Our long-term care system is very dependent on these family caregivers, many of whom are juggling work and caregiving. Respite refers to services that allow family caregivers to take a break from caregiving. Currently a limited amount of respite care is provided through the LifeSpan Respite program and through the Area Agencies on Aging. Montana Lifespan Respite is funded through a federal grant of $120k per year that will end in 2017. Governor Bullock will include state funding in his budget to continue this promising work.
- Increasing Care Coordination and Decreasing Hospital Readmissions by supporting the CARE Act. The CARE Act is model legislation supported by AARP that has passed in 33 states so far. The CARE Act recognizes the critical role that family caregivers play in keeping their loved ones out of costly institutions. Many of these caregivers end up helping with medication, wound care, and even IVs and injections. Yet too many of them don’t get adequate information or training to help them be successful. The CARE Act would:
- allow a patient to designate, upon entry to a hospital, a caregiver in the patient’s medical record;
- require a hospital to notify and meet with the designated caregiver along with the patient to discuss the patient’s plan of care prior to the patient’s discharge or transfer to another facility;
- require a hospital to offer instruction to the designated caregiver on certain after-care tasks at time of discharge to his or her current residence;
- and provide limitation of hospital liability.