Judy Levy is having a busy day. Already, she’s called three DC Council Members to advocate for more oversight in assisted living. She’s reviewed a 189-page amendment that helps older adults stay in their homes. She’s met with Coalition partners to discuss an upcoming hearing. And it’s only noon.
But that’s just a day in the life for this passionate advocate, who has served as the coordinator for the DC Coalition on Long Term Care (LTC) for the last five years. In this role, Judy — along with other advocates, consumers, and providers of home- and community-based services — tirelessly works to expand and improve the quality and affordability of long-term care programs in Washington, DC, particularly for low-income DC seniors and persons with disabilities or chronic health care needs.
In 20 years, the Coalition has accomplished a lot. Members have introduced and helped to implement regulations and licensure for assisted living facilities in order to ensure long-term insurance companies can pay — allowing more low-income people a choice in their aging options. They’ve helped to make changes to the assisted living and home health aide training requirements and testified for the implementation of the living wage — ensuring a higher quality workforce for direct service aides. They have worked to regulate restraints in nursing homes — helping to police elder abuse. And those are just a few examples of the Coalition’s achievements.
Yet, despite these steps forward, progress remains stubbornly slow. Many aides’ wages continue to be so low that they cannot afford health insurance. Case managers regularly testify that it takes months for their older clients to finally receive life-saving services. Fraud and abuse remain problems in some home care agencies. As Judy states simply, “DC should be better.”
Fortunately, with the Coalition’s unrelenting voice, DC can and will be better. Says longtime friend and fellow advocate Bruce Griffin, “There are people who can’t speak for themselves, so somebody should. And that’s what the Long Term Care Coalition does.”