Respite services, an important component of the home and community-based long-term care service-delivery system, provide informal caregivers with a temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities and associated stresses. Caring for a loved one is a responsibility most take on without hesitation. However, informal caregivers often face financial, physical, and emotional burdens that have an impact on their families, social lives, and careers. With the aging of the baby boomers, there will be an increasing number of older people due to the size of this group. As the boomers get older, there will be an increased likelihood that they will need support with everyday living tasks. As a result, the demands placed on informal caregivers will continue and likely will increase.
Informal caregivers play a critical role in the long-term services and supports system; in fact, the system cannot function without them. Thus, it is crucial that caregivers are supported in their caregiving responsibilities. Respite services temporarily relieve caregivers by providing a short-term break, allowing the caregiver to devote time to address other needs. Respite services include home care (e.g., personal care levels I & II, companionship/supervision), community-based services (e.g., social adult day services, adult day health care) and facility-based overnight care (e.g., in a nursing home, adult home). Respite services assist caregivers in helping their loved ones remain at home for as long as possible and delay or prevent nursing home placement, which often results in a much higher cost to both the family and the State Medicaid Program.
Funding for Respite Services
Respite services in New York State are provided through a variety of funding streams. There are 10 community-based respite programs that are included in the State Budget, for which the New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) has administrative responsibility.
Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) provide respite services across the state through a variety of federal and state-funded programs. Two primary programs are the New York Elder Caregiver Support Program funded under Title III-E of the Older Americans Act, and the state-funded Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP).
How can I pay for respite services?
1) Family Caregiver Support Program:
Respite is one of the supports offered through the State's Family Caregiver Support Program. Individuals eligible for respite care under this program are:
- Family caregivers providing care for individuals age 60 or older;
- Family caregivers providing care for individuals with Alzheimer's disease and related disorders, regardless of age; or
- Grandparents and other relative caregivers (not parents) 55 years of age and older providing care to children under age 18; or
- Grandparents, parents, and other relative caregivers 55 years of age and older providing care to adults ages 18-59, with disabilities, to whom they are related by blood, marriage, or adoption.
- Tribal Organizations can set a lower age than 60 for members to be considered as elders eligible for services.
- To find the Family Caregiver Support Program closest to you, visit the Eldercare Locator.[BS1]
2) Medicaid Waivers that pay for Respite:
Medicaid waivers provide the largest federal source of funding assistance for respite. Each state develops their own waiver eligibility criteria and conditions for specific populations. Waivers are subject to federal approval. To see if your state has a Medicaid waiver that you or your family member may qualify visit the National Respite Network Website.
Keep in mind that many states maintain waiting lists for Medicaid Waiver services. It is not an automatic entitlement, as is the regular Medicaid State Plan program, although some states may be converting their Medicaid waivers to state plan benefits.
3) Other Possible Public Funding Sources and Eligibility Information:
If you do not qualify for funding under the Family Caregiver Support Program or any of the Medicaid Waivers described above, check this table for other possible state funding sources.
4) If the person you are caring for is a Veteran:
Call the US Department of Veterans Affairs VA Caregiver Support Line at 1-855-260-3274 or visit the VA Caregiver Support website.
Costs vary from program to program. Financial aid may be available through your local office for aging. Medicaid participants who meet eligibility criteria may access respite services through managed long-term care plans.