Caregivers to get much-needed financial help under new state program

Caregivers to get much-needed financial help under new state program

A new, much-heralded program will pay qualified caregivers up up to $70 per day.

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Covered services include adult day care, home-delivered meals, personal care, or transportation.

On Wednesday, the state launched the Kupuna Caregivers Program, which is designed to help working caregivers pay for support services for senior citizens.

The funds are paid directly to contracted service providers.

To be eligible, caregivers must be employed at least 30 hours a week and provide direct care to a senior citizen who is a U.S. citizen or a qualified alien.

The care recipient must be at least 60 years old and not be covered by any comparable government or community-based care service, except kupuna care services.

"You have to need assistance with activities of daily living, so help with bathing, eating, toileting, or instrumental activities of daily living like food preparation," explained Terri Byers, director of the Hawaii Executive Office on Aging.

The recipient cannot live in a long-term care facility.

Funding for the program is limited to $600,000 through June 30, 2018 unless the state legislature approves another appropriation.

Byers estimates that the funding will only cover 50 to 135 people.

"Some folks will need help every day, some maybe two or three times a week so that will adjust how many we can serve. This is a drop in the bucket," said Byers.

There are roughly 154,000 unpaid caregivers in the state, according to AARP Hawaii. Nationally, about half of all caregivers work full time.

"This is the first time in the country anyone is trying this. We applaud the state for making the effort to help working caregivers," said Craig Gima, communications director for AARP Hawaii. "It's an important first step, but it is only a first step."

The program was signed into law in July by Gov. David Ige.

The application process includes employment verification and assessments of the care recipient and caregiver burden.

Caregivers who want to apply should contact the Aging and Disability Resource Center as soon as possible. The statewide phone number is (808) 643-2372.

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