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Long-term Care Scorecard Puts Maryland in the Middle

PHOTO: AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg says caregivers need more support, such as paid sick days and flexibility for expanded time off to help care for aging relatives. Photo courtesy AARP Maryland
PHOTO: AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg says caregivers need more support, such as paid sick days and flexibility for expanded time off to help care for aging relatives. Photo courtesy AARP Maryland
June 20, 2014

BALTIMORE - People like choices, but they're not always getting them when it comes to long-term care in Maryland. An AARP scorecard on care options and performance ranks all the states, and overall, Maryland ranks 23rd.

AARP Maryland State Director Hank Greenberg said one challenge is changing state priorities in spending on institutionalized care versus home care.

"The state's been working to improve the balancing of services away from the nursing homes and towards home and community-based services," he said. "That's a good thing, because (the) bottom line is that a vast majority of older Marylanders want to live independently, at home."

Greenberg said home-based care also is less expensive. The state ranked particularly low in the category of allowing people to hire their own workers and set their own hours for care. He cited that kind of choice as a key component of a good long-term care system that respects the choice to age at home.

The "support for family caregivers" category also shows need for improvement, said Greenberg. It affects more than 770,000 in Maryland who juggle work and home lives as they care for aging parents or other relatives with disabilities. He said he sees solutions being offered in other states as options to be pursued here.

"Do things like offering paid sick days and expanding the ability of workers to take time off to provide care," Greenberg said.

The state performed well in allowing paid home-care workers to perform some medical tasks, which saves time and money for caregivers. Greenberg said it's estimated that the value of the work being done by non-paid family and friend caregivers is about $8 million a year.

The complete state scorecard is online at LongTermScorecard.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MD