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Report: South Dakota Needs to Improve Long-Term Care

There are more than 84,000 family caregivers in South Dakota. (sabinevanerp/Pixabay)
There are more than 84,000 family caregivers in South Dakota. (sabinevanerp/Pixabay)
June 26, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. -- South Dakota needs to improve its long-term care options for residents, according to a report ranking states.

The national scorecard measures the care available in states based on accessibility, choice and quality. It also assesses their support for family caregivers and the transitions between health facilities and home.

South Dakota ranks 32nd overall. Erik Nelson, associate director for advocacy with AARP South Dakota, said the state ranks lowest in the categories of effective transitions and choice of setting for care.

"Those are some challenges that come with being in a rural state, but it's also some challenges that I know that our industry leaders and our state leaders are aware of,” Nelson said. “And even just since our 2017 Legislative session, there's been efforts made to look at those anyway, then hopefully address them in a positive manner."

Nelson said better transportation and improved telemedicine services could also help South Dakotans in need of long-term care stay in their homes longer.

The report was compiled jointly by AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation.

Last winter, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard moved the Division of Adult Services and Aging from the Department of Social Services to the Department of Human Services. Nelson said his organization is part of the working group guiding that transition and that the group is generating good ideas on long-term care.

He noted the state ranks especially high in quality of life and care in this report.

"That's a testament to our work ethic here in the state. That's a testament to our long-term services and support providers. And that's also a testament to our family caregivers,” he said. "A lot of our support is done through family caregiving in South Dakota and it's been done over generations."

South Dakota has more than 84,000 family caregivers providing 79 million hours of care each year, according to AARP.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - SD