Tens of thousands of New York City’s seniors are unable to receive the home care they need due to city budget cuts to senior services, advocates say, adding that those most heavily impacted are low-income.
City council members, seniors, home care workers, and advocates are asking the city and Mayor de Blasio to increase funding for senior services, including the Expanded In-Home Services for the Elderly Program (EISEP), a program that provides home care to low-income seniors and undocumented seniors, and for case management. Since 2008, funding for EISEP has been cut, even as the number of eligible seniors has risen.
Current EISEP recipients like Keith Luke call the program a blessing, The Alliance for a Greater New York (ALIGN) reports, noting that Luke was the primary caregiver for his mother, who was able to access professional home care services through EISEP as her health declined and Luke needed additional help.
“It’s very good that we have this program in New York,” Luke tells ALIGN about the EISEP program. “If I had to pay, it would kill me.”
With the New York City senior population projected to reach 1.4 million by 2030, close to one million New York City seniors could need home care. In addition to restoring recent cuts in funding, advocates are working with city and state officials on creating a longer-term plan for expanded and sustainable funding for home care to meet the growing need, ALIGN says.
Over 90 percent of aging New Yorkers would prefer to receive home-based care, instead of institutional care, ALIGN reports.
“We need to recognize the rapidly growing senior population and prepare to ensure that we can fund the critical programs they depend on,” council member Paul Vallone tells ALIGN.
Bobbie Sackman, director of Public Policy for the Council of Senior Centers and Services, says increased funding of case managers is necessary to meet the needs of the city’s seniors.
“Case managers are the doorway to receiving home care and many other services vital to homebound elderly New Yorkers, but case management is grievously underfunded, resulting in long waiting lists and thousands of underserved seniors,” Sackman says.
Home care worker Nicole Nynaar tells ALIGN she and other home care workers would like to see their work reimbursed at a higher Medicaid rate.
“Home care work is important and should have decent wages and benefits—no matter how it’s paid for,” Nynaar says.
Written by Cassandra Dowell