From Forbes McIntosh, Government Policy Solutions, WALA Lobbyist
At its meeting Tuesday in Madison, the Wisconsin Long-Term Care Advisory Council looked at ways the state can better support family caregivers in Wisconsin, and council members identified some preliminary suggestions for making systemic changes:
- Educating health care providers and physicians about local caregiver resources to make referrals to services;
- Make outreach materials available at health care facilities or other locations;
- Conduct an awareness campaign on existing resources and the need for the public to start thinking about the aging of Wisconsin and how it might impact them;
- Increased marketing of Aging and Disability Resource Centers;
- Increased use of telemedicine, which would address lack of transportation to/from medical appointments;
- Address the paid caregiver labor shortage by providing a livable wage for care providers and using actuarial sound methodology for calculating the actual costs for providing the care; and
- Designate a single point of entry into the system for caregivers, such as establishing a toll-free phone number that routes callers to their local ADRC.
The items above were part of a brainstorming session conducted by the council Tuesday in response to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ plan to create a Wisconsin strategy for family caregiving and seeking input on what that strategy should encompass. DHS earlier this fall released a “Dementia-Friendly Employers Toolkit” – geared toward helping employers that have employees who may be caregivers to someone with dementia – and is exploring other ways the state can support family caregivers.
In other business Tuesday, the council discussed different ways the state could increase integrated employment for long-term care. The council had preliminary discussions about the barriers to integrated employment and will further discuss some possible recommendations at the next council meeting in January. Under current state law, you cannot bill Medicaid for personal care services for anyplace outside the home – and this can be a barrier to integrated employment for some disabled individuals, said Janet Estervig, section chief for employment initiatives at the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Long Term Care and the Office of Family Care Expansion. There was some discussion and interest at Tuesday’s meeting in trying to change state laws to allow Medicaid for personal care services in employment settings.