Ga. scores low on seniors’, disabled services

A new report ranks Georgia 42nd in the nation for long-term care services for older people and adults with disabilities.

The report — produced by AARP, the Commonwealth Fund and The Scan Foundation — ranked the states and the District of Columbia in 25 categories, including hospitalization of nursing home residents, percentage of patients getting home and community-based services, and the cost of nursing homes.

The rankings follow several other health care measurements that have put the Peach State in the lower half of states.

The study aims for the first time to measure the availability of accessible, affordable and quality long-term services to the elderly and disabled — as well as support for caregivers — in each state, Kaiser Health News reported.

Georgia’s score lagged because of low rankings on measures such as percent of caregivers who usually or always get needed support (47th); the number of people with disabilities allowed by the state to direct their own services (41st); and the number of home health and personal care aides (45th).

But in areas such as the median annual cost for a private-pay nursing home resident, Georgia ranked seventh. And the state was ninth in the percentage of adults with disabilities living in the community who are satisfied or very satisfied with life.

Overall, most Southeastern states ranked in the bottom quarter on the scorecard. North Carolina was an exception, at 24th.

AARP Georgia said the state’s ranking is not surprising.

“Georgians want the choice to stay in their homes and communities as long as possible, and yet nursing homes continue to be the dominant setting,’’ said Kathy Floyd, AARP Georgia’s legislative director. “We need to reorder our priorities and give consumers the choices they demand.’’

The report found that if Georgia improved to the level of the best-performing state, an estimated 4,052 nursing home residents with low care needs would instead be able to receive long-term services and supports in the community.

Floyd noted that Georgia scored fairly well (24th) in consumers’ ability to obtain services through Aging and Disability Resource Centers that serve as entry points into the long-term care system.

“They are designed to address many of the frustrations that consumers and their families experience when trying to access needed information, services and supports,’’ she said.

The report found that ‘’even the top-performing states have some opportunities for improvement.’’

Here’s a link to the Georgia scorecard, and to the Kaiser Health News article on the overall rankings.