More Nova Scotians will have help to care for a loved one at home thanks to increased support by the province.
Thousands of Nova Scotians support family members, friends and neighbours living at home by providing personal care, help around the house, and drives to health appointments or running errands. The province is providing more support to care for loved ones as part of the government's commitment to give Nova Scotians more options to stay in their homes and communities longer.
"This government said it would make life better for families and offer better care sooner and that's exactly what we're doing," said Health and Wellness Minister David Wilson during a visit to the Adult Day Centre in Halifax today, Oct. 10. "By supporting caregivers, we are helping to ensure they are able to continue to provide quality care to their loved ones, which, in many cases, can mean the difference between living at home or going into a nursing home."
The government is taking three key steps to support caregivers by:
-- making the monthly Caregiver Benefit available to about 100 more people
-- enabling Caregivers Nova Scotia to expand their programs and services to more areas of the province
-- opening respite beds in more communities so caregivers can take a temporary break from caregiving responsibilities
About 1,100 low-income Nova Scotians qualify for the $400 monthly Caregiver Benefit. By raising the low-income threshold from $18,785 to $22,003, about 100 more caregivers are expected to qualify.
Over the next two years, the province will more than double the grant to Caregivers Nova Scotia to run community-based peer support groups and offer telephone assistance and practical support for caregivers. It also partners with organizations to deliver workshops about care-giving issues.
"Providing care can be extremely rewarding and satisfying. It can also put a physical, mental, emotional and financial strain on caregivers and families," said Sharon Reashore, executive director of Caregivers Nova Scotia. "We offer recognition and practical supports to friends and family giving care. This funding will allow us to make our programs and services available to more caregivers in more areas of the province."
That is welcome news for caregivers like Cathy White, who found herself caring for her husband Tony after he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease four years ago. She appreciates the ongoing support, recognition and information she receives from Caregivers Nova Scotia.
"Caregiving changes your life," said White, who attends regular support group meetings organized by Caregivers Nova Scotia. "It has been important to me to have the support of other caregivers, other people, who know and understand what you're going through on a daily basis. Caregivers Nova Scotia also helped me realize I needed to take care of myself if I wanted to be able to look after him."
The province is also making respite beds available in more communities. Respite beds are an affordable, convenient option for caregivers who need a temporary break from their caregiving responsibilities. Eight nursing home beds will be converted to respite beds as they become available in Yarmouth, Middleton, Brookfield, Springhill, New Glasgow, Sydney, Dartmouth and Sackville.
Today's announcement is part of the additional $22 million included in the 2012-13 budget to improve and meet the demand for home care supports across the province. The funding will make life better for Nova Scotia's seniors by making home care more affordable, supporting caregivers, strengthening community solutions and investing in more technology and equipment.
Access to the caregiver benefit, respite care and other home care programs is available through the single-entry access system at 1-800-225-7225.