West Virginia’s Family Alzheimer’s In-Home Respite program, abbreviated as FAIR, provides care services for individuals with Alzheimer’s or related dementias, such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s Diseases. This statewide program is designed to give one’s primary caregivers the opportunity to take a break from that responsibility. Care can be provided privately in the individual’s home or in a group environment, referred to as “congregate care.” While all counties throughout West Virginia offer in-home respite care, only a few offer out-of-home respite care.
The respite care providers are trained and employed by the county. However, the individual receiving care and their primary caregiver (referred to as the “client”) have the flexibility to approve and decline the individual who provides them with respite care. This includes friends and relatives, given they are qualified to provide care and have the appropriate training. One exception is that spouses and the “client” cannot be hired as the respite caregiver.
Respite care is offered up to a maximum of 16 hours per week or approximately 64 hours per month. The average participant receives just over 40 hours / month. While the program does not provide free services, the hourly rates are charged on a sliding scale based on the income of the individual with Alzheimer’s. The hourly rates for respite care are very reasonable and start as low as $1.50 / hour.
The eligibility requirements for the FAIR program are quite simple. To qualify, West Virginia residents:
-Must have a written diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or related memory disorder (Parkinson’s, Lewy Body dementia, etc.)
-Must be receiving care from an unpaid caregiver who is at least 18 years of age and requires relief from their caregiving responsibilities. It is not necessary for the unpaid caregiver to live with or even be related to the individual with Alzheimer’s.
The FAIR Program provides respite care services in the home or in a congregate setting for a maximum of 16 hours / week. Socialization, companionship, and activities, such as mental exercises, arts and crafts, and music are provided as part of a care recipient’s activity plan. For those attending adult day care, the adult day care facility may provide transportation to and from the facility. For those who are receiving in-home respite care, transportation to hair appointments, the pharmacy, senior care center, etc., may be provided. However, this depends on the county in which one resides, as not all counties allow the respite caregiver to transport the care recipient.
During the application process, each applicant will be approved for a certain number of hours of care provided by a trained caregiver in Alzheimer’s care.
The cost of respite care depends on the income level of the individual receiving care. There is a sliding scale for private, in-home care beginning at $1.50 / hour for individuals with incomes up to $27,180 / year ($36,620 / year for an individual and their spouse) and goes to $14 / hour for individuals with incomes in excess of $62,180 / year ($85,620 / year for an individual and their spouse). For congregate or group respite care, such as adult day care, the co-payments can be considerably less; the scale ranges from $1.50 – $8 / hour. There is also a hardship consideration for individuals whose expenses exceed their incomes, which may further reduce the hourly out-of-pocket costs. Make note, medical expenses, such as health insurance premiums and prescription drugs, can be deducted from one’s income, reducing the amount of income used to determine one’s cost share.
To apply for the FAIR Program, individuals should contact their County Aging Provider. A complete contact list is available here. Priority is given to applicants who are older, have the greatest financial and functional need, and those who live in rural areas.