March 13, 2018 1:15 pm
Updated: March 13, 2018 1:16 pm

Nova Scotia expands Caregiver Benefit Program so 600 more people can receive support

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The Nova Scotia government said Tuesday it was expanding the Caregiver Benefit Program so 600 more people who care provide care to adults living at home will receive financial support.

“Caregivers provide tremendous support to their loved ones,” said Seniors Minister Leo Glavine in a news release.

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“By expanding the Caregiver Benefit Program, we can ease the financial responsibility often associated with caregiving and allow more Nova Scotians to live in their homes for as long as possible.”

READ MORE: Documents show waits for long-term care stressing Nova Scotia hospitals: NDP

The province says until now, the program offered $400 a month to those who provide unpaid care for 20 or more hours per week to an adult with “very high care” needs.

The eligibility criteria is being expanded to include people who help care for those assessed as having “high” to “very high care” needs, the news release says.

Some of the new criteria may include people who have a combination of moderate to significant memory loss, problems with decision-making and communication that affects daily functioning as well as serious behavioural problems and a high risk of falls.

WATCH: N.S. seniors advocate says creation of 1,000 nursing home beds ‘minimum’ needed

There are currently 1,979 caregivers enrolled in the program.

“Caregivers Nova Scotia is pleased with the expansion of the program. As the only program of its kind in Canada, we hear first-hand from caregivers how $400 per month can make a difference in the lives for both the caregiver and the care recipient,” said Angus Campbell, executive director of Caregivers Nova Scotia, in a news release.

“By broadening the eligibility criteria, additional lower income Nova Scotians will be able to access this program.”

WATCH: Nova Scotia slow to provide housing, care for people with disabilities: report

Some financial criteria that must be met to qualify. If single, the person receiving care must have a net annual income of $22,125 or less. If married or common law, a total net household income of $37,209 or less is needed.

“Often, the presence of a caregiver can mean the difference between staying at home or moving to a nursing home,” said Susan Stevens, Nova Scotia Health Authority’s senior director of Continuing Care. “Supporting caregivers is critical and expanding the caregiver benefit to more people is one way we can do this.”

READ MORE: Nova Scotia elderly care advocates want government to address ‘neglect’ in nursing homes

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