Home & Community-Based Services (HCBS)

Last Updated: November 25, 2020

Written by the Open Caregiving Team. Editorial review by Joyce O. Murphy RN, MSN.

What are home & community-based services (HCBS)?

Home and community-based services are programs with a common goal: To help aging people remain at home as long as possible. Programs understand that the ability and desire to age at home varies from one family to the next. They also know that each family has different financial resources and family members available to help care for their loved one's needs.

What are the advantages to Home & Community-Based Services?

There are a wide array of services and supports that help people like your loved one stay safely at home. Their advantages include:

  • Supporting people to stay in their home, neighborhood, and community. This increases comfort and security as it reduces feelings of isolation.
  • They are far less costly than having people live in a long-term care facility.
  • Programs that fall into the categories of health services and human services.
  • Funding is most often from a state’s Medicaid Waiver Program, something that varies by state. Some long-term care insurance pays part of HCBS care for people.

What services does HCBS offer?

HCBS programs offer support with medical care and daily living. These are community-based services that are unique to each town and city.

Examples of daily living supports are:

  • In the community it includes senior centers, adult day care settings, congregate meals sites, and meals delivered to a person’s home.
  • At-home services that may include personal care for activities of daily living, transportation, home repairs, and homemaker services.
  • Being able to access important information about finances and legal matters.
  • The security that comes with check-in phone calls and a case manager who ensures your loved one has the services they need and want.
  • Senior housing options.

Examples of medical care services are:

  • Home healthcare, including skilled nursing and therapist care.
  • Durable medical equipment and pharmacy services.
  • Caregiver and client training, including those that focus on health promotion and disease prevention.
  • Personal care.
  • Hospice care.

Who is eligible for HCBS?

HCBS eligibility requirements are like others that are funded because of the Older Americans Act. This places a priority on services for:

  • People who are 60 years of age or older.
  • Minority populations, and those who have limited use of English.
  • Those living in rural areas.

Services vary by state, based on the Medicaid Waiver allowances of each.

  • You can access information about eligibility where your loved one lives at the State Resources Map.
    • Click on your state, or scroll down on the page.
    • Click the link next to ‘Waiver Information’ to learn more.

Who do I contact to learn more about my local HCBS?

The Eldercare Locator is a good place to begin your search to locate someone who can guide you in learning more about HCBS programs. Click on the photo that most closely matches your loved one’s needs.

You can also contact your local Area Agency on Aging. They will provide you with the information you need.

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Respite Care

Respite care offers primary caregivers a temporary break from the demanding day to day of caring for a family member who is disabled, ill, or aging.

Medicaid

Medicaid is a federal and state jointly funded healthcare program that covers health services for certain people with low-incomes.

Home Health Care

Home health care allows people who require medical care or are recovering from a hospitalization to remain at home.