ROCKFORD, Illinois – Illinois Department on Aging (IDoA) Director Charles D. Johnson today continued a series of statewide sessions at Help at Home in Rockford to educate seniors about how the increase in the state’s budget will help ensure they are able to age in the comforts of their own homes.
This year, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich provided nearly $60 million in additional state funding to create new programs and expand existing ones. “Governor Blagojevich is committed to providing older Illinoisans with new programs and services, as well making existing ones even better to improve the quality of life for older persons as well as making sure that members of our greatest generation are not forced to give up their homes to live in a nursing home," Director Johnson said.
In his State of the State Address earlier this year, the Governor promised to expand on his many efforts to rebalance Illinois' long-term health care system and provide increased funding to help older persons remain independent in their own homes. In the FY 2007 budget, which went into effect July 1, 2006, Governor Blagojevich invested an additional $59.5 million in state money that will allow Illinois’ older persons to age in the comforts of their own homes and avoid being placed in a nursing home.
Thanks to Governor Blagojevich, funding increases for the following programs will allow more Illinois seniors to participate in state programs:
• Comprehensive Case Management – $7.8 million. IDoA is undertaking the first phase of a major initiative to create a Comprehensive Case Management system. When fully operational, this system will provide a single point of entry for services, comprehensive assessments of clients needs and a broad array of other services. This new approach will ensure that frail elderly are linked to all resources available to them in their communities, including the state's prescription drug programs, Illinois Cares Rx, I-Save Rx and the Illinois Rx Buying Club.
• Emergency Home Response Service - $6.8 million. IDoA's new Emergency Home Response Service will provide 24-hour monitoring for at risk seniors. In case of an emergency, participants will be able to signal for help from trained professionals, such as hospitals and police and/or fire departments. The electronic device will be connected through the phone line and programmed to call a response center that will in turn send the appropriate assistance to the older person's home.
• Home Modifications - $2 million. Through an interagency partnership between IDoA and the Illinois Housing Development Authority, grants will be given to seniors to update their homes with safety and assistance equipment such as grab bars and ramps. Grants can also be used for emergency rental payments, first month deposits and utility bills. Clients who use such services actually cost hundreds of dollars less per month to maintain in the community than comparable community care clients without home modifications.
• Community Care Program, Eligibility Requirements Expanded - $1.5 million. The Community Care Program is designed to assist seniors to maintain their independence and providing cost effective alternatives to nursing home placement. Beginning on July 1, the asset level eligibility requirements for the program were increased from $12,500 to $17,500, allowing an additional 400 clients to be served. It is estimated that the Community Care Program will assist nearly 44,000 clients per month in FY 07.
• Adult Day Service Transportation Rate Increased - $1 million. In FY 07, the Adult Day Service Program, which is designed especially for older people who want to remain in the community but who cannot be home alone during the day due to a physical, social and/or mental impairment, received a boost of $1 million to assist service providers with the ever increasing cost of fuel. Service providers with the program provide transportation to and from adult day service centers across the state. The rate doubled from $4.15 to $8.30 per person per ride. This is the first time the transportation reimbursement rate has been increased since 2000.
• Home Delivered Meals - $1 million. Home Delivered Meals is an important option for older adults who cannot leave their homes and cannot personally prepare nutritious meals, home delivered meals are an available option. The $1 million will help service providers with increased meal delivery costs, increased food costs, replacement equipment and replacement vehicles.
• Senior HelpLine - $1 million. The Illinois Department on Aging's Senior HelpLine provides information on programs and services and links persons 60 years of age and older and their caregivers to local services. Over the past year, the Senior HelpLine has seen a 21 percent increase in calls compared to last year, as well, the amount spent on each call has increased by 16 percent. On average, the HelpLine receives more than 16,200 calls a month. Thanks to the increase in funding, IDoA will be able to hire more than a dozen more employees and make upgrades to the current phone system.
Director Johnson will continue traveling across the state throughout the year to educate seniors and their loved ones about IDoA’s numerous programs and services that are available.
Since the beginning of his administration, Governor Blagojevich has focused state efforts on rebalancing Illinois' long-term care system by keeping seniors in the comforts of their own homes and out of nursing homes. He has made it a priority to improve the quality of life for Illinois’ older persons. Through legislative action, Governor Blagojevich has:
• Created several state prescription drug programs, including Illinois Cares Rx, I-Save Rx and the Illinois Rx Buying Club.
• Created the Community Care Program Advisory Committee to advise the state on issues related to the IDoA’s programs and service to prevent unnecessary institutionalization.
• Implemented a 24-hour Elder Abuse Hotline where seniors and their loved ones can report elder abuse or exploitation and quickly get help.
• Required IDoA to develop a community reintegration program to get seniors back into the comforts of their own homes. Through the Home Again program, more than 40 older persons have regained their independence by moving out of a nursing home and back into the community.