Supporters Rally at Capitol for Kupuna Caregivers Program
Dozens of kūpuna, their caregivers and other advocates united at the Hawai‘i State Capitol on Monday, March 25, 2019, to voice their support for the Kupuna Caregivers Program. Signed into law in 2017, the program provides needed assistance to caregivers who take care of an aging loved one as well as work full time outside the home.
Currently, the program funds up to $70 a day in services that working family caregivers need in order to stay active in the workforce while also caring for their kupuna at home. Services that the program provides include adult day care, home care aides, transportation and meal services for up to five days per week. To qualify for the program, caregivers need to provide care for kupuna age 60 or older, who need help with at least two activities of daily living, and are employed outside of the home for 30 hours or more per week.
“This program is an innovative approach to the issue of long-term care, and it has received national attention because it’s a different model,” said Pedro Haro, Hawai‘i advocacy director for Caring Across Generations. “Providing a little bit of assistance to family caregivers and allowing elderly to age at home can potentially save the state millions of dollars by preventing more costly interventions, such as sending family members to care facilities or hospitalizations due to inadequate care during the day.”
Two measures that affect the program’s future are currently before the legislature: House Bill 467, HD1, SD1 and Senate Bill 1025, SD1, HD1. Both bills would provide continued funding for this first-in-the-nation program, but the Senate version of the bill would cap services to only once per week.
“We are deeply concerned that if services are slashed to a once per week, the program may lose its flexibility to provide personalized services based on each family’s unique needs,” added Haro. “We appreciate the legislature for thinking of ways to stretch the program to help more people, but we think there are other ways to do that.”
This is the third year that the Kupuna Caregivers Rally has been held, which takes place during the Hawai‘i Family Caregiver Coalition Caregiver Awareness Day.