This nonprofit advocacy story has it all: partnership, persistence, and problem solving. The mission at issue is securing the right for persons in need of long-term care to exercise control over the selection and hiring of their personal care attendants. Since bureaucratic simplicity called for exclusive reliance on employees of licensed home care agencies, this was an uphill struggle.
The story involves the DC Coalition on Long Term Care, which was founded in 1995 by a group of volunteers, consumers, advocates, and public health care providers dedicating to advocating for and improving the quality, affordability, and accessibility of long-term care programs and services in order to allow more District of Columbia residents to age in their homes or communities safely and with dignity. In the District of Columbia, Medicaid long-term care funds are typically spent on nursing home care. Hence, a change of policy was necessary to advance the Coalition’s mission.
In 2010, things looked good as the Coalition participated in an advisory group working cooperatively with the District of Columbia government to launch the Participant Directed Care Services Program. This program enables participants to use Medicaid funds to employ a worker of their choice — instead of having to rely exclusively on employees of licensed home care agencies. However, due to a change in leadership at the Mayoral level, this effort ceased with a change in government personnel.
Not giving up, Coalition members testified before the DC City Council in support of the program. The Coalition helped form a new task force in 2013 that included local government staff, disability advocates, and home health care service providers to try to accelerate the process of the program’s implementation. Task force meetings occurred monthly, but progress was slow. Ultimately, it took the engagement of a consultant in July 2014 to expedite the progress, and achieve success.
Due to the perseverance of Coalition members, the desired program, now called Services My Way, will launch in January 2016. It already has an operational manual, participant guide, program brochure, and flyer. Importantly, a program coordinator has been hired within the DC government to see that the goals of the program are realized.
The DC Coalition on Long Term Care, which is housed in the Iona Senior Services, a member of DC’s Center for Nonprofit Advancement, knows that the long-sought creation of the program is only the first step, and remains dedicated to advocating for its mission of aiding those in need with the support they require.
This feature originally appeared in National Council for Nonprofits Newsletter. You can read it here.