The Nova Scotia government is investing more than $1.1 million to further recognize the important role of caregivers in assisting loved ones and friends with their needs at home.
Changes to the Caregiver Benefit Program will support those who are providing care to low-income individuals with a high level of disability, coupled with either mild cognitive impairment or the need for significant support from others to carry out daily activities such as medication management, meal preparation, shopping and banking.
"Caregivers provide an incredible amount of support to their loved ones and can often mean the difference between someone being able to stay in their own home or moving to a long-term care facility," said Health and Wellness Minister Zach Churchill. “This expanded eligibility will allow more Nova Scotians to receive the care they need to remain at home longer.”
The Caregiver Benefit Program offers $400 a month to eligible individuals who provide unpaid care for 20 or more hours per week to an adult in need of care.
Until now, the program has only provided financial support to those caring for individuals with high to very high care needs, including those with moderate to significant memory loss; problems with decision-making and communication that affect daily functioning; a high level of physical impairment; serious behavioural problems; a high risk of falls; or a high risk of long-term care placement.
The expanded program takes effect Friday, July 2. Once in effect, individuals can apply by calling 1-800-225-7225. The Nova Scotia Health Authority will work with people to arrange an assessment to determine whether they are eligible, and if so, when payments will start.
The program expansion is funded through the Canada-Nova Scotia Home and Community Care and Mental Health and Addictions Services Funding Agreement. The full budget for the Caregiver Benefit Program is $12.5 million annually, funded by both the provincial and federal governments.
I am thrilled that the eligibility criteria for the Caregiver Benefit Program are widening, allowing recognition of more caregivers in Nova Scotia. This is a welcome move forward. We completed a recent survey and found that caregivers spend an average of 40 hours a week taking care of their care recipient. The Caregiver Benefit is one way of recognizing the tremendous contributions of caregivers. – Jenny Theriault, executive director, Caregivers Nova Scotia Association
- there are currently 2,865 caregivers enrolled in the program
- a caregiver may be a spouse, family member, friend or neighbour
- eligibility is determined through a standardized assessment of the care recipient by Nova Scotia Health Authority care coordinators
- care recipients must have a net annual income of $22,125 or less if single, or a total net household income of $37,209 or less
- eligibility criteria for the program were expanded in 2017 to include moderate cognitive impairment