Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
03/15/2010 01:30 PM Senate HEALTH & SOCIAL SERVICES
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SCR 13-SUPPORTING SENIOR CAREGIVERS CHAIR DAVIS announced consideration of SCR 13. 1:42:28 PM TREVOR FULTON, staff for Senator Con Bunde, introduced SCR 13 paraphrasing the following sponsor statement: Alaska's senior population is growing. The number of Alaskans 65 years of age or older is expected to increase by nearly 60 percent in the next 20 years and the population of those 85 years or older is projected to double by 2050. Per capita, Alaska has the fastest growing 85 and over population in the entire nation. While advances in medicine, technology, and assisted living practices are enabling seniors to live longer, more productive, and more comfortable lives than ever before, the fact remains that many of our aging loved ones will at some point require some form of caregiving. In fact, more than 25 percent of all seniors need some level of assistance with their daily activities. It is critical that we as a state are prepared to meet and manage the needs of our aging population. By supporting senior caregivers and encouraging the Department of Health and Social Services to provide additional education on the effects of aging and the importance of senior caregivers, SCR 13 draws attention to the changing demographics of aging in Alaska and the critical role played by senior caregivers. 1:45:28 PM SENATOR PASKVAN moved to adopt the work draft committee substitute (CS) for SCR 13, labeled 26-LS1481\P, as the working document. There being no objection, version P was before the committee. 1:46:30 PM LORNA MILLS, representing herself, said she is a registered nurse and the owner of Care Net Inc., a private-duty home care provider in Anchorage that employs caregivers who help people in their own homes. Because un-monitored care opens the possibility for exploitation of vulnerable older persons, there is a big difference between hiring someone from a reputable private-duty home care organization and hiring someone from a newspaper ad, she said. As a member of the National Private-Duty Association (NPDA) and the Alaska chapter, she said she speaks for the group in saying they are dedicated and have made it their mission to preserve the integrity of the private-duty home care industry by adhering to certain standards. A goal of the association is educate the community about the importance of using an NPDA agency. She asked Mr. Fulton what the sponsor hopes to accomplish with SCR 13, what he will do to support businesses like hers, and how she can help. CHAIR DAVIS advised Ms. Mills to contact either her office or the sponsor's. 1:49:43 PM KAY BRANCH, Elder Health Program Coordinator, Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium (ANTHC), said ANTHC supports SCR 13 on behalf of their tribal health partners, the 16,000 Alaska Native elders in the state, and caregivers. And they encourage DHSS to ensure that caregiving resources and education embraces the cultural and linguistic traditions of Alaska Native people. As part of the Medicaid reform initiative, Alaska tribal health organizations collaborated to design a tribal long term care service development plan that would increase access to both home and community-based and facility services for Alaska Native elders and people with disabilities. This includes components like SCR 13 that encourages family caregivers to provide care and supplement with formal services only when necessary. This maintains the family structure and honors the long-standing tradition of caring for elders, she said. Tribal health system partners continue to work with DHSS to increase home and community-based services at all levels. This includes traveling to rural regions to better understand the challenges of rural service delivery and tribal health organizations thereby ensuring equal access to services statewide. Culturally appropriate nursing and assisted living homes are also needed to provide the full range of long term care services to Alaska Native elders and people with disabilities. ANTHC therefore also seeks support for the tribal facility capital projects in Anchorage, Kotzebue, and Bethel, she concluded. 1:52:56 PM JOANNE GIBBENS, Deputy Director, Division of Senior and Disability Services, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), stated that the administration supports SCR 13. SENATOR DYSON said the implication of the resolution is that DHSS needs a kick in the pants, but it appears that DHSS doesn't look at it that way. He asked what the resolution really accomplishes and why the department supports it. MS. GIBBENS replied the department supports the resolution because it recognizes the need and is committed to doing what it can with existing and future resources to meet that needs of caregivers. Through a combination of federal and state funds they currently provide funding for eight agencies statewide to provide caregiver support services. That's probably not sufficient to meet the statewide need, but they are committed to do what they can and to continue working with the Alaska Commission on Aging to identify strategies to improve service delivery statewide. 1:55:57 PM SENATOR DYSON referenced the resolve on page 2 and asked what the impact is for the Legislature to say it recognizes senior caregiving as a profession. MS. GIBBENS said she believes that recognizing something as a profession recognizes it as a calling and a life's task and work. Also, family caregivers can sometimes get paid for providing services and in that respect it's a profession for them. SENATOR DYSON asked if she sees this as a precursor to formal training and/or licensing. MS. GIBBENS replied DHSS already provides training to caregivers, counseling and support groups to families, and respite services for family members. SENATOR DYSON observed that she's saying "no." MS. GIBBENS agreed. SENATOR DYSON asked Mr. Fulton if he and the sponsor believe that the resolution commits the Legislature provide funding to do everything outlined in the resolve section on page 2. CHAIR DAVIS suggested he take the resolution at face value. She believes it's appropriate for the department to express support and doesn't feel that it will bind the Legislature. SENATOR DYSON said it could be argued differently but he won't push it. 2:01:09 PM MARIE DARLIN, AARP Capitol City Task Force, expressed support for SCR 13. It's important to educate people about the growing need for caregiver services because that need for those services is growing rapidly. She suggested that a little more emphasis might be given to letting people know what services are available through the state or community organizations. 2:03:12 PM DENISE DANIELLO, Executive Director, Alaska Commission on Aging, Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS), said Alaska's senior population is growing faster than any state in the nation, but not because seniors are moving here. It's that the people who moved here in the '70s and '80s are aging and choosing to remain in Alaska. This is an important population in terms of their investment in Alaska. According to a study done by the University of Alaska, seniors contribute more than $1.5 billion to the state economy each year and this doesn't include the seniors who continue to work and volunteer. SJR 13 calls attention to the changing demographics and the need to look at the types of services that are provided and whether they are sufficient to keep seniors living here. 2:06:09 PM KEVIN TURKINGTON, CEO, Senior Care of Alaska; President, Older Persons Action Group and Alaska chapter of the National Private Duty Association (NPDA), said he is testifying in support of SCR 13. It can bring a better balance to supporting the entire senior population. Many resources are focused to the low-income seniors and, while that is important, about 75 percent of seniors don't qualify for these services. The best way to serve seniors and lower the costs of doing so is to empower seniors and family and professional caregivers. This can be accomplished by filtering all current regulations and subsequent legislation through SCR 13 and the powerful statement if makes on behalf of seniors and their families. 2:09:54 PM CHAIR DAVIS called an at ease due to a teleconference system malfunction. 2:17:16 PM CHAIR DAVIS reconvened the meeting and closed public testimony. 2:17:57 PM SENATOR PASKVAN moved to report CSSCR 13, labeled 26-LS1481\P, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSSCR 13(HSS) moved from the Senate Health and Social Services Standing Committee.