How Is the Department of Health and Human Services Helping Caregivers?

Department of Health and Human Services Helping Caregivers
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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services put forth a national strategy – the first of its kind – to support millions of family caregivers and address the challenges they face when caring for people with developmental disabilities or other health issues.

The HHS plan features 345 actions to help caregivers in the next three years, as well as more than 150 actions that can be used by federal, state, and local governments, along with businesses and communities, reports Seasons’ recent article entitled “Federal government releases first national strategy to support millions of family caregivers.” Some of the actions detailed in the national strategy address the lack of resources caregivers have when maintaining their health, well-being, and financial security.

“Supporting family caregivers is an urgent public health issue, exacerbated by the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “This national strategy recognizes family caregivers’ critical role in a loved one’s life.”

According to the HHS, roughly 53 million family caregivers each year in the U.S. help seniors who are aging or have a disability or chronic health condition.

HHS also says that millions of older adults and people with disabilities wouldn’t be able to live in their communities or homes without the help of caregivers. If replaced by paid caregivers, their services could cost an estimated $470 billion annually.

“While family caregiving is rewarding, it can be challenging, and when caregivers do not have the support they need, their health, well-being, and quality of life often suffer,” officials wrote.

In addition, officials say their financial future can be put at risk because caregiving responsibilities cost an estimated $522 billion annually, which is “lost income” for families.

“When the challenges become overwhelming, and family caregivers no longer can provide support, the people they care for often are left with no choices except moving to nursing homes and other institutions or to foster care—the cost of which is typically borne by taxpayers.”

The national strategy focuses on five main goals:

  • Increase awareness and outreach
  • Build partnerships and engagement with family caregivers
  • Strengthen services and supports
  • Ensure financial and workplace security; and
  • Expand data, research, and evidence-based practices.

Reference: Seasons (Sep. 23, 2022) “Federal government releases first national strategy to support millions of family caregivers.”