SC improves in meeting long-term care needs of seniors, but could do better

Greenville NewsJune 20, 2014 

— A new report card ranks South Carolina 34th among the states in meeting the long-term care needs of its older citizens.

Though that’s an improvement from the last report card in 2011, which ranked the state 38th, South Carolina still has a way to go, according to the report released Thursday by AARP, The Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation.

“This Scorecard gives us a snapshot of how well South Carolina serves our older residents, those with disabilities, and family caregivers – and shows us where we must sharpen our focus to better assist hardworking South Carolinians,” said Teresa Arnold, state director of AARP South Carolina.

The state has made progress, Arnold said, pointing to an additional $6 million allocated by the Legislature for services that help people remain independent as they age, which most of them want to do.

“The Scorecard shows significant improvement in the number of home health and personal care aides from 2009 to 2012, and this new state funding will help us to continue this positive trend,” she said.

But more must be done to improve support for family caregivers, effective transitions, and home- and community-based services, according to AARP South Carolina, which serves more than 580,000 members 50 and older in the state.

“Unpaid family caregivers provide the bulk of care for older South Carolinians, in part because the cost of long-term care remains unaffordable for most middle-income families,” according to the group.

Around the state, there are more than 770,000 caregivers who enable a loved one to stay home by helping with activities of daily living such as dressing, transportation and medical needs such as injections, the group reports. This help is valued at $7.4 billion, according to AARP.

“When it comes to helping older South Carolinians live in the setting of their choice, this silent army of family caregivers assumes the lion’s share of responsibility,” Arnold said.

“Many juggle full-time jobs with their caregiving duties; others provide 24/7 care for their loved ones. With every task they undertake, these family caregivers save the state money by keeping their loved ones out of costly nursing homes – most often paid for by Medicaid.”

The report looks at affordability and access, choice of setting and provider, quality of life and quality of care, and support for family caregivers among other indicators.

To read it, go to http://www.longtermscorecard.org.

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