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Thinking new about long-term care

Posted: Friday, August 15, 2008

The state of Alaska is seeking ideas for improving its long-term care system for senior citizens and persons with disabilities of all ages.

"Long-term care includes institutions as well as a range of services provided in the person's home and in the community," Dr. Steve Lutzky, president of HCBS Strategies, said.

HCBS stands for Home and Community Based Services. HCBS Strategies is the national consulting firm assisting Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services to design and put in place a plan for improving long-term care services in Alaska.

Alaskans are invited to participate in community forums being held throughout the state the week of Aug. 25. Interested citizens are encouraged to contribute to the discussion for improving services from 5 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 at Centennial Hall. Persons may also get involved off-site by joining a (computer) Web-enabled conference call or by phone at 702-824-9512. The access code is 126-987-378, and the audio pin is #.

Over the past several weeks, HCBS Strategies has been gathering suggestions from people who participate in programs (consumers) and their families, providers and direct care workers. The feedback has been requested through individual interviews, surveys, as well as through focus groups. During the community forums, HCBS Strategies staff will present its draft set of recommendations and gain reactions from those persons most affected before the recommendations are finalized and presented to state officials.

"We have an array of comprehensive and extensive recommendations which will require major changes in the current system," Lutzky said. By Aug. 20, a summary report of the recommendations will be available for review at the HCBS Web site www.AKLTC.com.

Everyone, including family members, friends, service recipients and service providers are encouraged to give their opinions regarding the draft report. If the Wednesday date does not work for one's schedule, persons should feel free to participate in one of the other community forums around the State. A community forum will take place from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 26 at the downtown Anchorage Marriott by Web or via phone at 702-824-9512. The access code is 224-977-617, and the audio pin is #.

A community forum will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Westmark Hotel in Fairbanks. The phone contact information is 702-824-9512. The access code is 177-724-278, and the audio pin is #. People may also participate by the Web for this event as well. To hear the presentation and offer input through the Web, persons need to register in advance by going to www.AKLTC.com.

The community forums will be extremely important in terms of getting valuable input from persons affected. The report recommendations to be presented to the Department of Health and Social Services, the governor and the Legislature will be translated into a Long Term Care Plan that includes a three year implementation plan and a set of recommendations for reform after the initial three year period.

For more information, please contact Kristy Michael by phone at 410-858-0807 or through e-mail at Kristy@hcbs.info.

• Marianne Mills is the program director of Southeast Senior Services, which offers home and community based services for older Alaskans throughout the region. SESS is a part of Catholic Community Service and assists all persons regardless of their faith.



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