Old Colony Elder Services Concerned Over Soaring Home Care Wait List

With only days left in the formal legislative session on Beacon Hill, Old Colony Elder Services’ (OCES), the regional elder services agency serving seniors and individuals with disabilities throughout Brockton and the 22 surrounding communities, say lawmakers have not addressed the home care needs of many seniors and people with disabilities.

According to Mass Home Care Executive Director Al Norman, the state’s home care program had nearly 2,000 elders on a waiting list as the new fiscal year began July 1st.

“We are hoping that members of the General Court will not accept home care waiting lists as a fact of life,” Norman said. “We’ve asked the Ways & Means Committees not to break for reelection campaigns until they address the growing problem of home care shortfalls.”

If no additional funds are forthcoming, Norman predicted the waiting list of 2,000 elders today could reach 4,000 or 5,000 by next June.

“This is a serious concern. Old Colony Elder Services currently has 80 people on its wait list for home care services and we expect this number to reach 200 by next June,” said Diana DiGiorgi, Executive Director of OCES.

Per Mass Home Care approximately $6.7 million is needed in FY 2013 to eliminate the current waiting list. Norman said that many of these elders are eligible for nursing facility care. “It’s easier to place someone in a nursing facility in Massachusetts than it is to keep them at home. Instead of being a ‘community first’ state, we continue to push ‘institutions first’ on our aging and disabled populations.”

Governor Deval Patrick recently filed a supplemental budget that could have been the vehicle for home care funding, Norman noted, but the Governor asked for no relief for these programs.

Mass Home Care is also pushing a one sentence piece of legislation, H4186, that would allow disabled people with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive deficits to get a personal care attendant (PCA). Currently, only people who need physical assistance with care are allowed into the PCA program. H4186 would allow people with cueing and supervision needs to receive care, and avoid costly nursing facility placement. A person suffering from Alzheimer’s would be able to get PCA services at home under the bill.

“People should not be penalized because they have the ‘wrong’ disease,” Norman explained. “If our goal is to keep people at home, then this bill should have passed months ago.”

According to Mass Home Care, 70 percent of states that have a PCA program allow people with cueing and supervision needs to receive care at home. H4186 is currently in the House Third Reading along with 600 other bills.

“Somewhere in between discussions on criminal sentencing and health care reform,” Norman concluded, “we hope that lawmakers will remember than nearly one in five people in the Commonwealth are over the age of 60—-and their greatest wish is to simply live out their lives at home, with dignity and independence. We continue to waste millions of taxpayers’ dollars annually on unnecessary institutional care.”

About OCES
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services is a private, non-profit corporation designated as one of 27 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES offers a number of programs to serve seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers such as Family Caregiver Support; Adult Family Care; Supportive Housing; Nutrition; Money Management; Protective Services and Home Care.

OCES serves elders, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers in 23 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts: Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.

The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org.

Dukakis Reflects on 40 Years of Home Care

Former Governor Michael Dukakis

Former Governor Michael Dukakis, considered by advocates as perhaps the best “human services” Governor in state history, will help Mass Home Care celebrate 40 YEARS OF HOME CARE at the group’s Annual Meeting on June 18th at 11:30 am at the Burlington Marriott.

Dukakis will be introduced by the man who served as his Secretary of Elder Affairs, Paul Lanzikos, who is now Executive Director of North Shore Elder Services, one of the 27 Aging Services Access Point (ASAP) members of Mass Home Care. A dozen other home care activists and lawmakers will speak at the event.

The meeting will be the last event as Mass Home Care President for Linda George, Executive Director of Boston Senior Home Care, who is stepping down after a two-year term leading the organization. The group will also honor retiring State Representative Alice Wolf of Cambridge, the House Chair of the Elder Affairs committee, with a Home Care Hero award.

“They say things get easier with age,” noted Mass Home Care Executive Director Al Norman, who has served in that position since 1986. “But the struggle to keep elders at home always faces new challenges–even after 4 decades.”

Norman said despite all the focus in Massachusetts on health care reform, very little attention and money is focused on keeping older people at home.

“Long term support focuses on assisting people with chronic conditions with their daily functioning,” Norman said. “We’ve gotten much better at getting people out of nursing facilities, but not as good at getting money out of the budget.” Norman said Mass Home Care member agencies have helped drive down Medicaid nursing facility days by 30% over the past decade, saving Massachusetts taxpayers $600 million a year.

Created during the Frank Sargent Administration, our home care system is one of the largest in the nation. Here are some facts about home care in Massachusetts this year:

* $335 million in state and federal funding managed by Mass Home Care member agencies

* 82,600 individuals receive ASAP care management and coordination

* 10,444 elders eligible for institutions receive care at home

* 8.6 million meals served to 74,000 elders

* 150,000 information calls handled by regional ASAP agencies

* 18,282 reports of elder abuse investigated

* 55,000 nursing facility screenings conducted

* 2,000 elders receive Money Management assistance

* The typical home care client is an 81 years old woman, living alone

* 45% of home care clients live at or below the poverty line

In addition to the basic home care personal assistance services, such as help with eating, bathing, dressing, and toileting, the home care network manages a variety of other long term supports to keep elders and individuals with disabilities living in the community: Group Adult Foster Care, Adult Foster Care, Personal Care Attendant Program, Senior Care Options, Chronic Disease Self Management Programs, Money Management Programs, Guardianship Programs, HUD 202 and other Housing Programs, Geriatric Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Programs, and Serving the Health Information Needs of Elders (SHINE).

The Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) are all non-profit, and 51% of their board of directors are local individuals over the age of 60. In addition, Mass Home Care also represents Massachusetts’ 21 federally-designated Area Agencies on Aging, which manage more than $21 million annually in federal funding for nutrition, family caregivers, supportive services and nursing home ombudsman programs. Old Colony Elder Services, located in Brockton and founded in 1974, is the designated regional ASAP for 23 communities in greater Plymouth county.

Sponsors for the Mass Home Care event include: AARP Massachusetts, Advantage Home Medical, Affinity Home Health, Associated Home Care, Atrius Health, Bayada Home Health, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston Senior Home Care, Caregiver Homes, Commonwealth Care Alliance, Core Health, Fallon Community Health Plan/Summit Eldercare & Navicare, Greater Boston Chinese Golden Age Center, Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts, Home Health Resources, Highland Valley Elder Services, LaSalle Health, Linda Cragin, Mass Association of Older Americans, MA Council for Home Care Aide Services, Midtown Home Health Services, Old Colony Elder Services, Tufts Health Plan, and United Health Care.

About OCES
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services is a private, non-profit corporation designated as one of 27 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES offers a number of programs to serve seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers such as Family Caregiver Support; Adult Family Care; Supportive Housing; Nutrition; Money Management; Protective Services and Home Care.

OCES serves elders, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers in 23 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts: Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.

The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org.

South Coast Improvement Company adds Memory Care Apartments at Atria Bay Spring

South Coast Improvement Company, based in Marion, MA, one of the largest providers of construction and renovation services to senior living and healthcare facilities in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, recently completed construction of the Life Guidance® Memory Care Neighborhood at Atria Bay Spring Village in West Barrington, RI.

South Coast Improvement completed the conversion of Atria Bay Spring’s traditional assisted living space into a memory care apartments in 24 months.

The newly created Life Guidance® Memory Care Neighborhood’s grand opening was held on May 17th.

South Coast Improvement’s President, Tom Quinlan explained the project, “Atria came to us with an idea to create more memory care units to meet increasing demand within their assisted living facility. We took the concept and worked with Atria providing pre-construction services including preliminary design and budgets. The project was innovative in its use of existing space. The challenge was to meet the regulations for a memory care unit in terms of space and usage while maintaining a construction budget that made the project feasible.”

South Coast Improvement was granted approval in late 2011 and was the General Contractor on the project. South Coast Improvement has worked with Atria on dozens of projects throughout the Northeast, however this project had its unique challenges.

“All of these types of projects have their challenges as renovations in occupied spaces with special needs residents are extremely complicated,” Henry Quinlan, Executive VP at South Coast Improvement noted. “We had a particularly tight time line for completion on this project. We had to manage the process very efficiently and we succeeded in meeting the expectations of all parties.”

Occupied and Operational Environments are South Coast Improvement’s Niche

South Coast Improvement are the experts in complex renovation projects within occupied and operational environments. The company provides new construction, full renovations, capital improvements, building envelope improvements and interior renovations.

Their portfolio of healthcare and senior occupied renovation projects includes numerous projects for Atria, Benchmark and Welch Health Care & Retirement Group, to name a few. They have just completed their 23rd major renovation for Revera Health.

South Coast Improvement utilizes Special Building Practices to ensure the comfort and safety of special needs residents and patients who occupy the spaces that are being renovated. Their experience, high standards of compliance, overall quality and their ability to complete projects on time and on budget, sets them apart from their competitors.

About South Coast Improvement

South Coast Improvement offers an extensive range of design, construction and construction management services regionally in the Northeast and across the U.S. With decades of experience, the company is renowned for high quality, efficiency and high standards of compliance which sets them apart from their competitors. They are are engaged in projects across sectors that include healthcare, institutional, commercial, hospitality and planned communities/residential. The company offers pre-construction analysis, construction management, general contracting, design/build services, capital improvement, building envelope improvements and interior renovations.

South Coast Improvement maintains memberships and professional affiliations with the

Assisted Living Facility Association, the American Society of Interior Designers, the International Facility Managers Association, the Community Associations Institute, as well as International Real Estate Managers and the Greater New Bedford Chamber of Commerce.

South Coast Improvement is headquartered at 208 Wareham Road in Marion, MA 02738.

For more information, contact 888-448-8887; email Information@southcoastimprovement.com or visit the website at www.southcoastimprovement.com

Old Colony Elder Services Outlines New Health Reform Protection for the Elderly and People with Disabilities

Old Colony Elder Services’ (OCES), the Brockton based regional elder services agency serving seniors, people with disabilities and caregivers throughout greater Brockton and Plymouth County, outlines new health reform protection for the elders and people with disabilities.

Last week, the Massachusetts Senate adopted by voice vote an amendment to give elders and disabled individuals enrolled in managed care plans access to an independent long term supports and services (LTSS) coordinator.

The Senate version is slightly different from the House version, but both branches have endorsed the idea that seniors and people with disabilities should have someone on their care team who is not employed by or affiliated with the managed care company, and who can act as an independent “agent” for the managed care member.

This provision has been made part of the health reform legislation and will be part of a federal initiative known in Massachusetts as the ‘Integrated Care Organization’ plan. The ICO plan will affect as many as 115,000 low-income consumers in Massachusetts between ages 21 and 64 covered by Medicare and MassHealth. The ICO plan represents $2.5 billion worth of Medicare and Medicaid services in the Commonwealth.

According to the Senate amendment, the LTSS Coordinator’s responsibilities will include:

· Participating in initial and ongoing assessments of the health and functional status of the member, which includes determining appropriateness for long term care support and services.

· Arranging and coordinating the provision of appropriate institutional and community long term supports and services such as housing, home-delivered meals, transportation.

· Monitoring the appropriate provision and functional outcomes of community long term care services and tracking member satisfaction.

Diana DiGiorgi, Executive Director of OCES explained, “Having a long term support services coordinating agency that is financially independent from the managed care company ensures that there is no conflict of interest. The coordinating agency is an independent entity that can best advocate for the elder or person with disability.”

“This is a critical protection for members of managed care plans,” said Al Norman, Executive Director of Mass Home Care, a supporter of the measure. “Since people with disabilities enroll in these plans on a mandatory basis, they need assurance that someone is acting as their agent on their care team.”

The Senate LTSS amendment was sponsored by Senate Health Care Finance committee Vice Chairman, Senator Brian Joyce (D-Milton), with help from Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester), and Senate Minority Whip Richard Ross (R-Wrentham).

About OCES
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services is a private, non-profit corporation designated as one of 27 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES offers a number of programs to serve seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers such as Family Caregiver Support; Adult Family Care; Supportive Housing; Nutrition; Money Management; Protective Services and Home Care. OCES serves elders, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers in 23 communities in Southeastern Massachusetts: Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.

The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org.

Old Colony Elder Services Receives Grant from Tufts Health Plan Foundation to Fund Caregiver Program

Old Colony Elder Services (OCES) the Brockton based regional elder services agency serving seniors, their families and caregivers throughout greater Brockton and Plymouth county, has recently been awarded a grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. The $3,869 grant will be applied to OCES Family Caregiver Support Program’s “It’s About Time” free workshops for caregivers.

“We are fortunate to have been awarded this significant grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation. Old Colony Elder Services and the Tufts Health Plan Foundation have a very similar mission – to provide programs and services that support healthy aging and promote the physical, mental and emotional well-being of seniors,” said Diana DiGiorgi, OCES’ Executive Director. “The ‘It’s About Time’ workshops for which we have received this grant, provide support and assistance to caregivers who are caring for seniors at home. The workshops are designed to help caregivers avoid burnout and remain physically and emotionally healthy while providing essential caregiving services.”

Three “It’s About Time” workshops will be offered in partnership with Councils on Aging in Marshfield, Plymouth and Brockton. The workshops will teach caregivers techniques and strategies to manage their time and reduce stress.

The first workshop will be held on November 3, 2011, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Marshfield Council on Aging, located at 230 Webster Street in Marshfield. There will be three speakers: Shawn Smith, RD, Nutrition Director at OCES will discuss meal preparation; Sharon Fisher of Come to Order Professional Organizing Services will discuss time management and Dee Lyon, RYT of Real Life Yoga will share relaxation techniques. (Dates for the second and third workshop TBA.)

Attendees will receive lunch and a quick-meal cookbook. There is no cost to attend, but class size is limited. Caregivers may register for the workshops by contacting Rochelle Sugarman at OCES
(508) 584-1561 ext 312.

About the Tufts Foundation
The Tufts Health Plan Foundation funds over $2 million annually in grants to Massachusetts and Rhode Island nonprofit organizations that provide a range of programs and services that address healthy aging. For more information, visit tuftshealthplanfoundation.org.

About OCES
Incorporated in 1974, Old Colony Elder Services is a private, non-profit corporation designated as one of 27 Aging Services Access Points (ASAPs) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. OCES offers a number of programs to serve seniors, individuals with disabilities, their families and caregivers such as Family Caregiver Support; Adult Family Care; Supportive Housing; Nutrition; Money Management; Protective Services and Home Care.

OCES serves elders, their families and caregivers in 23 towns in Southeastern Massachusetts:
Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Easton, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Kingston, Lakeville, Marshfield, Middleboro, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rockland, Stoughton, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.

The organization’s mission is to provide services that support the dignity and independence of elders by helping them maximize their quality of life; live safely and in good health; and, prevent unnecessary or premature institutionalization.

In 2009, OCES was honored with the Metro-South Chamber of Commerce’s “Economic Impact Award”. The agency has 157 employees. For more information call (508) 584-1561 or visit the website at www.oldcolonyelderservices.org