The Caregiver Support Program provides supportive services to help unpaid caregivers care for their loved ones who are elderly and frail, physically disabled, or have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or a similar condition. This program not only helps to prevent and / or delay institutional placement of the care recipients, but it also helps to prevent caregiver burnout. Respite care, which is assistance provided to caregivers to relieve them of caregiving responsibilities for a short period of time, is one of the major benefits of this program.
The Caregiver Program is provided under the administration of the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Division of Long Term Services and Supports (LTSS).
There are subtle variations in the qualification criteria for the different services. Generally speaking, the following factors are considered.
Age – caregivers must be a minimum of 18 years old, while care recipients must be at least 60 years of age. Care recipients can be under the age of 60 if diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or another related dementia or are physically disabled.
Residency – all services described here are open to South Dakota residents only. No length of residency is required.
Functional Ability – An inability of care recipients to perform daily living tasks oneself or the lack of family / caregiver support for a specific task is typically a qualifying factor. Examples would be the inability to dress oneself, move from one location to another independently, prepare meals, or do light housecleaning.
Financial – this program is unique in that there are no income and asset limits. However, program participants may be asked to give a donation, although there is no requirement to do so.
One of the main supports of the Caregiver Program is respite care. This type of care offers short-term care assistance (both in-home and out-of-home, such as adult day care) to relieve primary caregivers of their responsibilities and provide them a break. Support may include companionship for the care recipient, assistance with daily living activities, basic housecleaning, and preparation of meals.
Other caregiver benefits may include care coordination, information and help in obtaining services, and caregiver training, counseling, and support groups.
Program participants may receive up to approximately $5,000 in services per year. An individualized care plan limit is determined by the assessed needs of the caregiver.