Respite care cuts create opportunity for nursing homes

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Nursing homes could see an uptick in admissions as many states grapple with cuts to respite care services, recent reports suggest.

Respite services provide temporary relief in the form of short-term home care workers, brief stays in residential facilities and adult day care centers. But these services, which are much less costly for families than skilled nursing facility stays, have been targeted by cash-strapped states. Respite care often allows the elderly to delay or prevent being admitted to a nursing home. The cuts may lead to more seniors being admitted, although families will likely struggle to cover the costs out-of-pocket.

Illinois saw a $76.3-million cut to community services for people with developmental disabilities a year ago, while state officials suspended New Hampshire's entire Alzheimer's respite program in July 2011, Kaiser Health News reported.

“The current economic climate that we're in and that every state is facing has made it really difficult to expand any services at all,” Jill Kagan, program director of the Access to Respite Care and Help (ARCH) National Respite Network and Resource Center, told Kaiser. “This comes on top of the fact that there was not enough respite for family caregivers to begin with.”