I can’t believe that it is January already! It seems as if we “just” finished our San Jose event and now we’re only a few weeks away from our return to Atlanta. I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun!
Before I bring everyone up to speed on what we’re doing for 2012 I’d like to take a moment to express our thanks to everyone in the Community who participated and/or supported Abilities Expo in 2011. None of these events would have been possible without our incredible sponsors, our loyal exhibitors, and the over 20,000 visitors (and that number doesn’t include kids under 18 years of age!) that took the time to visit one or more of our Abilities Expo events last year. On behalf of our entire team…thank you.
2011 was a great year for Abilities Expos. Highlights included:
- Every show that we held set a new attendance record for that market!
- Our first-time San Jose event set a record (2,429) for the largest attendance of any first-time event!
- We began offering CART (captioning) services at all of our workshops starting with last summer’s Houston event and we’ll be continuing the service for all of our shows going forward.
- We increased from 1 workshop area to 2 for most of the events in order to increase the number of free consumer workshops.
- Our Abilities Expo TV crew (our joint-venture with Family Network TV) was onsite at each event and you can check out the new episodes on our website.
- We began offering computerized registration services onsite to reduce waiting times for folks registering for each show.
2012 is now officially “full speed ahead.” This year we’ll be holding six events including our return to the Atlanta market next month after changing our date pattern (from the 4th quarter of the year to the 1st quarter) and our venue (from the Cobb Galleria Center to the Georgia World Congress Center).
Our objectives this year are to expand the communities we reach and to make the events as inclusive as possible. We want to continue to feature new categories of products and services, to expand the range of topics covered in our free consumer workshops and to introduce new and interesting events and demonstrations in our Events Arenas. If you have suggestions for companies that you’d like to see represented as exhibitors, topic suggestions for the workshops or “things” you’d like to see in the arenas, please let us know!
This year’s calendar includes:
- Abilities Expo Atlanta at the Georgia World Congress Center (Building C4) from February 17-19th.
- Abilities Expo Los Angeles (the 34th annual presentation!!) at the Los Angeles Convention Center from March 30-April 1st.
- Abilities Expo Metro NY (Edison, NJ) at the New Jersey Expo Center from May 4-6th.
- Abilities Expo Chicago at the Schaumburg Convention Center from June 29-July 1st.
- Abilities Expo Houston at the Reliant Center from August 3-5th.
- Abilities Expo San Jose at the San Jose Convention Center from November 16-18th.
In addition to our domestic events we’re also very excited to share some news…Abilities Expo is going international! That’s right…if any of you happen to be traveling to Singapore in November (what are the chances?), we’d love to have you join us for Abilities Expo Singapore which will be held from November 2-4th of this year. How cool is that?
So, we’re hard at work to make sure each of the events meets (and hopefully exceeds) your expectations. We’re sincerely hoping you’ll all have the opportunity to visit at least one of this year’s shows and we’re looking forward to seeing you. It’ll be easy to find us…we’ll still be wearing our bright orange polo shirts and Lew and I (and some of our team members) will be wearing our “highly visible” orange Croc’s! If you see us, please come over and say hello.
Ever since the Native Americans used ripe cranberries to treat bladder and kidney ailments, this tiny fruit has been the natural go-to remedy to prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs).
UTIs—a constant concern for the community of people with disabilities—occur when bacteria attach to the bladder or urethra and multiply. But now the Community has a new weapon in the battle to maintain a healthy urinary tract: elluraTM. This natural cranberry supplement contains 36 mg of proanthocyanidins (PACs), the active ingredient in cranberries which inhibit the ability of bacteria to adhere to the urinary tract. Instead of wrecking havoc with an infection, the bacteria are simply flushed out.
"I see many patients with disabilities and neurologic illness. Urinary tract infections are common for these patients because of immobility, catheter use or incomplete bladder emptying,” said Dr. Sophie Fletcher, a urologist with Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas. “I always recommend ellura as a natural option to help my patients maintain a bacteria-free urinary tract. In my practice, I've seen fantastic results in the prevention of UTIs and avoiding chronic antibiotic use."
Clinical studies have demonstrated that it’s not just the PACs that are the key; it’s the amount of these anti-adhesion gems. A full 36mg as measured by the BL-DMAC method—newly developed by Brunswick Laboratories and recommended by the U.S. cranberry industry as the gold standard for quantifying PACs—are encouraged for daily consumption to keep the bacteria from sticking where it doesn’t belong.
Worldwide, only ellura contains this required amount of PACs in one capsule.
"When Trōphikōs first launched ellura in the US, the obvious target market was healthy women between the ages of 35 and 65. Through our customer interactions over the last 12 months, we have realized the urgent and unmet need of people with disabilities due to the extremely high incidence of UTIs in this patient population,” said Trōphikōs President Terri Jackson Wade. “Whether it is a boy in a wheelchair due to a spinal cord injury, a mom who suffers from multiple sclerosis, or a daughter caring for her mom with Alzheimer's, our mission with ellura is to remove one health worry from the mind of these individuals and their loved ones."
For people with diabetes or sensitivities to high-acid foods, the dangers of the sugars and acids in cranberry juice can outweigh its health benefits. With ellura, they can enjoy the same protection against UTIs without compromising their conditions. In addition, this product contains no artificial preservatives, colors or sweeteners and no corn, dairy, soy, wheat, yeast or gluten.
While this product does not replace antibiotics for an existing UTI, it can be safely taken in conjunction with doctor-prescribed pharmaceuticals. Its continued use after the course of antibiotics is complete will help to prevent future infections from taking hold, minimizing the need for additional medication. This is especially significant as more and more bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.
According to Susan from Houston, “I suffered from bladder infections related to multiple sclerosis. My doctor recommended that I begin taking ellura because she was concerned of antibiotic resistance. In the six months I've been taking ellura, I have had only one bladder infection and it was very mild compared to ones I have had before. I love it! I have no side effects with ellura and continue to take it. I plan on taking it for the rest of my life!”
As with any nutritional supplement, it is advisable to consult your healthcare provider before use.
For more information on or to order ellura, visit www.myellura.com.
The Assistive Technology Showcase at the 2012 Abilities Expo Atlanta, scheduled for February 17-19, will feature demos of several exciting tools, technologies and programs that offer opportunities to support the lifestyles, enhance community participation and ensure the safety of people with all types of disability.
From apps to adventure and everything in between, the AT Showcase will provide visitors with the opportunity to interact with a variety of technologies available in the marketplace, as well as some that are still in development. Therapists, advocates, researchers and engineers will be on hand to demonstrate their technologies and to give visitors a chance to try them out.
The event will be held at the Georgia World Congress Center, Hall C4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 17, 11 to 5 p.m. Feb. 18 and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 19. Admission is free. For more information, see www.abilitiesexpo.com/atlanta.
Here’s a list of the AT Showcase exhibitors and some of what they’ll feature.
Several departments from Shepherd Center will be showcasing technologies and programs.
Shepherd’s Therapeutic Recreation Department will be showing some of the many options people have for recreation—both indoors and outdoors. Visitors can try to operate a sip-and-puff controller for aiming a rifle or crossbow. Also, they can test various pieces of exercise and conditioning equipment, including hand cycles. The Therapeutic Recreation team will also show videos from Shepherd’s Adventure Skills Workshop (ASW) and other outdoor programs. ASW participants get to choose from sports and activities, including tubing, jet skiing, water skiing, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, all-terrain vehicles, climbing wall, canoeing/kayaking, marksmanship and water polo. Program director Kelly Edens says, “There’s a big, wide world out there just waiting for you!”
Shepherd’s Assistive Technology Center will be at the AT Showcase, demonstrating some of its solutions for controlling electronic devices such as iPods, cell phones and computers, as well as devices for controlling the home environment—thermostat, lighting, TV, etc.
Additionally, Shepherd’s Crawford Research Institute will be represented by one of its programs, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Technologies (Wireless RERC). This program, conducted in collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, has become a recognized leader on issues and solutions related to the accessibility and usability of mobile wireless products and services by people with disabilities. The Wireless RERC will feature an interactive “Live Bar” where visitors can try out some of the latest accessibility features available on today’s cell phones, tablets and mobile computers. The Wireless RERC also will demonstrate the upcoming Commercial Mobile Alerting System for receiving public alerts on a cell phone.
Last but not least, staff from Shepherd Center’s RESCUE Program will be on hand to tell visitors about their efforts to link people with disabilities to local emergency responders. RESCUE is a community service program providing home alert labels and education for people with physical and/or cognitive limitations who find themselves in emergency situations. The mission is to improve response times and create better emergency plans.
The RESCUE team will show some apps for smartphones and tablet computers that could be useful in preparing for and responding to emergencies that could put people with disabilities at extra risk. Being prepared and able to execute a rescue plan is not only good practice, it could be a life saver, program personnel say.
Georgia Institute of Technology will be showcasing two technology solutions still under development—the Tongue Drive System and BrailleTouch.
The Tongue Drive System, developed by Georgia Tech’s Bionics Lab and being tested at Shepherd Center, is designed to control powered wheelchairs and other electronics, including computers, TV and other devices, with a magnet attached to the tongue. The Tongue Drive team will offer live demonstrations at the AT Showcase. The device allows people with little or no control of their upper extremities to operate devices with movements of their tongue. This system can also be expanded to incorporate a smart phone app to control the home environment.
Georgia Tech’s Ubiquitous Computing Lab (UbiComp) will be at the Assistive Technology Showcase to demonstrate several accessibility-related apps for smartphones – most notably the BrailleTouch smartphone app, which lets a user type text easily using the Braille alphabet.
NeuroTech Network/Cleveland FES Center
The NeuroTech Network and Cleveland FES Center will show that neurotechnology is quickly developing, with new devices becoming available to treat a wide range of neurological issues. The NeuroTech Network will showcase advances in FES, including the following:
- Implanted Electrode Technology: New technology developed by the Cleveland Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Center that helps restore mobility
- Impulse, an EMG (Electromyography)-sensing electrode: Senses tiny muscle contractions and wirelessly transmits the EMG signal to a computer using Bluetooth wireless technology
- Drop Foot Stimulation: Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) for drop foot syndrome to improve gait. CMS reimbursed for SCI. FDA-approved for stroke, CP, MS, TBI and more.
Tools for Life / Touch the Future
Tools for Life, Georgia's Assistive Technology Act Program, will be at the Assistive Technology Showcase, too. Tools for Life gives more options for greater freedom by increasing access to and acquisition of assistive technology (AT) devices and services for Georgians of all ages and disabilities so they can live, learn, work and play independently in communities of their choice. Tools for Life will feature several interactive workstations staffed by professional trainers and assistive technology specialists. They will show visitors how to use various technologies that can help them find employment and excel in their jobs.
Touch the Future, a South Carolina-based partner with Tools for Life, will staff the interactive workstations. Additionally, Touch the Future will be demonstrating various pieces of fitness equipment that can keep the body toned and balanced.
Interactive, Useful and Fun!
The 2012 Abilities Expo in Atlanta will cover just about everything from useful tools and technologies currently available to exciting new assistive technologies still in development. From recreation to employment and productivity tools, indoor environmental controls, advanced control systems, accessible technology for smartphones and tablets, functional electrical stimulation and more, the Assistive Technology Showcase at Abilities Expo Atlanta will have something for everyone!
For more about the Assistive Technology Showcase, sponsored by the Shepherd Center, visit www.abilitiesexpo.com/atlanta/pavilions_assistive.html.
Angela Ruzicka will launch her new book, Wendy on Wheels Takes a Stand, at her Kid’s Workshop on Saturday, February 18, 2012 at Abilities Expo Atlanta. She will also be at the expo in Los Angeles on Saturday, March 31, 2012.
Being an Ability Activist and Educator, I often visit many different elementary schools. I am amazed and delighted to see that things have definitely come a long way in the last twenty years, since I was in school. Children are taught to focus on the positive and avoid negative words when describing those different from themselves. One thing that is very important to me personally is the goal to remove the “DIS.” Let’s call it “Ability” Awareness, not “Disability” Awareness. Removal of these three little letters changes the focus to highlighting the abilities of others, not focusing on differences or un-abilities.
One of my favorite days recently included time spent at Barretts Elementary School in St. Louis, MO. The majority of the day’s activities were organized by an amazing fifth grader, Ashlyn. Ashlyn’s love for her younger brother Evan, a young man born with Fragile X, motivated her to influence her classmates. In addition to several speakers, the organizers had set up stations where the students could see what life is like for people with different abilities. One station had the students make a “fidget tool” to help someone with A.D.D. or A.D.H.D. focus in class. Another had children throwing a ball to each other while standing on a rocker board. Another of my favorite stations provided students with large plastic tweezers and instructions to pick up M&Ms. By doing so, the children learned how individuals with different levels of motor skills learn to adapt. These creative activities helped the students access their energy and think about alternative ways to perform everyday tasks.
I was also very impressed with a preschool I visited last summer. While I was there, the teachers invited the children to maneuver themselves around the gym in borrowed wheelchairs. I loved the fact that it was a preschool! The message is out there, and we are reaching them younger and younger.
I have the best job in the world. When I read my books to classes, I can tell I’m making an impact when the kids feel angered when the characters are left out of class activities. One time, a little girl yelled out “That’s not fair” in the middle of Wendy on Wheels Goes to the Zoo. She really understood how the characters felt and was genuinely outraged. After I read my stories, I ask the discussion questions that are listed in the back of the books. Often, the students come up with ideas on alternative actions that the characters could have taken to make sure that everyone is included. It is refreshing and motivating to know that these children are our future. Sometimes, I bring my sister, Amanda, to the school visits. It’s a wonderful opportunity for the young children to meet and talk to someone who uses a wheelchair. Once at a preschool, several little ones walked up and touched Amanda’s chair after we finished presenting. Another time, after visiting an elementary school, we received a bunch of Thank You notes. Many contained colorful hand-drawn pictures of people, walking, rolling, smiling and just enjoying life together. A third grader, Hannah, wrote, “Mandy, I love your wheelchair. It is really cool.” She called a wheelchair “cool.”
I believe that the key to teaching children about abilities is getting them to empathize. Once they understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes, or wheels as the case may be, then they can accept others as friends and equals. I continue to be amazed by the people I have met through the creation of the Wendy on Wheels series. It is an honor and a privilege to promote ability awareness on a daily basis and remind society that we are all unique individuals who deserve attention, respect, and love.
For more information on Angela Ruzicka and Wendy on Wheels, visit http://wendyonwheels.com.
The National Coalition for Assistive and Rehab Technology (NCART) has released an educational video entitled Complex Rehab Technology—Essential for health. Essential
for life. The video provides an introduction to Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) from the perspectives of individuals that rely on CRT for their health and independence, physicians that prescribe it, and consumer organizations that work to protect access. Along with an introduction to CRT, the video also highlights policy changes that are needed to provide adequate access.
The video will be widely distributed and utilized to increase the awareness and understanding of CRT on both a national and state level. It is designed to be used with legislators, public and private third‐party payers, and other policy makers. It should be required viewing for anyone involved in matters relating to the coverage and payment of CRT products and related services.
The video shares the stories of 5 individuals who rely on Complex Rehab Technology every day to promote and protect their health, function, and independence. The video also includes comments from a physician active in prescribing CRT and a national disability advocacy group leader. Dr. Nicholas Holekamp, Chief Medical Director at Ranken Jordan Hospital, a pediatric specialty hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, discusses the medical and functional benefits of CRT. Paul Tobin, President and CEO of United Spinal Association, a national advocacy and service organization, reviews the importance of CRT for people with disabilities and the need for adequate coverage and funding policies to provide adequate access.
In addition to the release of the video, NCART has also developed and updated a variety of additional CRT educational advocacy material that can be used with legislators, public and private third‐party payers, and other policy makers.
Gary Gilberti, NCART President, said “As we continue to work on separate recognition for CRT through a Medicare Separate Benefit Category and other activities, helping policy makers at the federal, state, and private payer levels better understand what CRT is all about is critical. They need to understand that it’s specialized equipment, that it’s used by a small group of children and adults with disabilities, and that it provides real medical and functional benefits.” Gilberti continued “Policy makers cannot make appropriate coverage and payment decisions without knowing the details of the products, services, and benefits. This video allows the people that use, prescribe, and advocate for CRT to share their perspectives across the country. They’re real people and real‐life stories. We know we need to create greater CRT awareness and this video is a great tool to assist in that process.”
Don Clayback, NCART Executive Director, stated “We’re very happy to have a new and powerful tool to help in national CRT advocacy efforts. The title ‘Essential for health. Essential for Life.’ is meant to convey the important aspects of CRT. As Frank Alberding says in the video, ‘A wheelchair is not just a wheelchair. It’s a part of me.’ That’s an important piece of the CRT message.”
Clayback added, “The video, along with our other updated educational materials, will better equip everyone who is working on promoting and protecting access to this specialized equipment. NCART will be making this video easily available for distribution and viewing. We hope all CRT stakeholders will use it to foster a clearer recognition of CRT and of the related policy changes that are needed.”
The 11 minute video can also be viewed at www.ncart.us. To allow for varied types of presentations, a condensed 5 minute version will also be made available. Copies of the videos and related information can be obtained by contacting Don Clayback, NCART Executive Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 716‐839‐9728.
NCART is an organization of providers and manufacturers that supply specialized products and related services used by individuals with significant disabilities and medical conditions. NCART promotes policies, regulations, and legislation to ensure individuals with complex disabilities and medical conditions have adequate access to the necessary assistive equipment and services. For more information visit www.ncart.us.
Introducing a detailed overview of how assisted living facilities have evolved over the years, as well as some thoughts about the future of assisted living. This is intended to be a helpful resource for any looking to learn more about what assisted living is, exactly, and the origins of this particular segment of elderly care.
What is Assisted Living?
Assisted Living is a type of elderly care that offers a level of attention and independence between those offered by nursing homes (which land on the higher end of the spectrum) and independent living (which would fall on the lower end).
Inception of the Modern Assisted Living Facility
By the late 1970s it was becoming apparent that the institutionalized setting of nursing homes was no longer acceptable for most aging seniors and their families. As advances in medicine allowed seniors to age in place, many were balking at the idea of nursing home placement. With rumors of mistreatment and neglect surrounding long-term care gaining more and more publicity, the need for change was evident.
Health, Housing and Hospitality
In the mid-70s, Dr. Keren Brown Wilson’s mother motivated her to take a stance for the frail and aging. It is reported that as a 60-year-old resident of a nursing home, Jessie F. Richardson asked her daughter to do something to help people like herself. It was those words that helped motivate Brown Wilson to focus her life’s work on assisting frail and low-income elders.
With custodial care being a predominant function of nursing homes, Brown Wilson examined the aspects which were most “institutional” such as shared bathrooms, communal showers and doors that don’t lock; all of which take away a very basic right to privacy. She wanted to devise a way to keep providing medical and daily care for older adults while also providing them with the dignity and respect they so deserved. She told the Oregonian in 2010, “We basically combined what I call the three Hs: health, housing and hospitality.”
Known by many as the “architect” of the assisted living (AL) model, Brown Wilson jumped through financial hoops in order to secure funding for what would become the nation’s first recognized assisted living facility in Portland, Oregon. In 1981, Park Place opened its doors and was a hit from the beginning. “It did things that weren’t prohibited, but that weren’t popular (at the time), like let people have a lock on their door,” Brown Wilson said.
By 1986, the model of ALs included 24-hour staffing to provide residents with personal and health-related services, but also offered expansive community area and activities designed to facilitate social interaction. The services provided by the facilities were individualized and could provide care ranging from medication administration and dementia care to incontinence maintenance.
Between the mid-90s and 2000, the number of assisted livings grew exponentially. From mom and pop private establishments to large corporate (for-profit and not-for-profit) establishments, assisted living quickly became a mainstream option for aging adults. Companies like Presbyterian Homes, Genesis HealthCare and Heartland have paved the way for advances in assisted living.
Best of Both Worlds
So, what exactly is an assisted living facility? Perhaps the best definition for assisted living can be found within Oregon’s care philosophy. It states: Assisted living… is a program that promotes resident self-direction and participation in decisions that emphasize choice, dignity, privacy, individuality, independence and homelike surroundings. Often seen as the best of both worlds, assisted livings provide their residents with the privacy and comforts of home, but also provides the necessary means to assist in activities of daily living (ADL). Most residents of ALs need more supervision and assistance than can be received at home without outside support, but do not require the intensive medical or custodial care that is provided in a skilled nursing facility.
Today, many ALs are not only able to provide assistance with basic ADLs but also provide medical care for those who are not sick enough to be hospitalized and don’t require the care of a skilled nursing facility. There is also a trend for ALs to offer physical, occupational and speech therapy to residents in order to allow them to maintain their highest level of function. This is particularly important for seniors whose goal is to age in place.
In addition to the “traditional” assisted living facility (ALF), personal care and board homes, group homes and residential care homes fall under the AL umbrella. These small-scale facilities are usually located in residential settings and are privately owned. In many states, these smaller facilities do not require the same staffing levels as required by the ALFs.
The regulations for any assisted living facility are state regulated. Each state has set forth standards which the facilities must adhere to. The Assisted Living Federation of America lists the specific regulations for each state.
Evolution of Financial Responsibility
In the beginning, assisted livings were geared towards those who could afford to pay for their care. It quickly became evident that the masses were not in a position to be able to pay privately for the long durations. Brown Wilson was not only instrumental in developing the first ALF, but also for developing the first assisted living program reimbursed by Medicaid.
In most states, low-income seniors can apply for Medicaid waiver programs which will help pay for home and health services in assisted living facilities. Unfortunately, medical assistance does not usually cover room and board for assisted living. Often, residents are forced to give portions of their social security to the facilities as compensation.
Even though many senior citizens are living on a fixed income a vast majority still pay out of pocket for assisted living costs. Most funds are drawn from savings, trust funds or investment accounts. Others find their relatives willing to help pay for their long-term care.
In addition to private pay options, long-term care insurance, veteran’s benefits and, in some cases, medical assistance can help cover the costs of assisted living.
Growth of AL
Since 1981, it is estimated that over 40,000 more assisted living facilities have been developed nationwide. The 1990s were a period of mass expansion. In a Harvard faculty study published in the journal “Health Affairs,” it was found that there is, on average, 23 assisted-living beds per every 1,000 people aged 65 and older across the United States. This varies state to state and does not include facilities with less than 25 beds. The top three states for assisted living are Minnesota, Virginia and Orgeon with a combined total of 193 beds per 1,000 persons 65 and over, where as West Virginia, Connecticut and Hawaii round out the bottom three with only 13 beds per 1,000. The study also showed that the vast majority of assisted livings are located in wealthier and better educated areas and are less likely to be located in rural areas or those with minority populations. The author of the study, David Stevenson, believes this is simply due to the fact that most ALs are paid by private resources.
SNF vs. ALF vs. IL vs. CCRC
The aging community today has more options than ever before when it comes to long-term care.
For many, their ultimate goal is to preserve their health in order to stay in their private home as long as possible.
Independent Living (IL) communities provide housing for seniors who for all intents and purposes live, as the name implies, independently. Many of these communities consist of private homes or apartments and offer only minimal assistance with home maintenance. The underlying goal of many of these communities is to eliminate the social isolation that plagues many seniors as they become older.
Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF) provide the most comprehensive care of all the senior house options. Also known as nursing homes, SNFs are often a last resort for many seniors. SNFs can provide the 24/7 support that is needed for those in declining health who need more intensive medical interventions. Skilled nursing facilities can also be a good referral source for assisted livings. Many nursing homes now offer post-acute rehabilitation and some residents are able to regain enough functional mobility after and injury or illness that assisted living may be a viable option for housing.
The Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) may offer aging seniors the most options. The goal of these communities is to provide all levels of living and care to help ease the transition when failing health dictates a move to a higher level of care. Many CCRCs are private pay communities and after an initial lump-sum deposit, the cost for all levels of care remain the same. The goal of these settings is to provide a sense of community while helping aging seniors to keep living independently as long as possible.
Over the course of the years, several agencies have been developed to further the interests and protect aging Americans. Without the support of these groups assisted living would not be what it is today and what it has the potential to be in the years to come.
CCAL (Advancing Person-Centered Living)
Founded in 1995, CCAL is the only national assisted living consumer organization. Its goal is to promote and foster person-center living practices by advancing policies and research. Ultimately, they help to create “a life centered on personal preference and values that stress dignity, choice, self-determination and individuality regardless of where they live and what services and supports they may need.” Some of CCALs accomplishments since 1995 include:
- Operated the only national telephone Helpline to assist consumers and healthcare professionals with questions, problems and advocacy needs related to assisted living. An internet component to the Helpline was added in 2000.
- Published a consumer booklet, Choosing Assisted Living: Considerations for Making the Right Decision.
- Served as the co-facilitator for the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging on an eighteen-month national initiative to develop assisted living recommendations
- Pilot tested an innovative “Community Partnership” (CP) project, to build and strengthen collaborative relationships among residents, staff, and family members in assisted living communities.
Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA)
ALFA describes itself as the “shared voice of resident-centered, consumer-driven senior living and the seniors and families served. Through outreach, advocacy and media, ALFA informs the public and policymakers about the critical role senior living communities play to champion quality of life for seniors.” It’s interesting to note that ALFA does not condone the use of the term “Assisted Living Facility.” In fact, they believe that several commonly used terms are taboo in the industry. For example, they believe the terms house, residence or community should replace the phrase assisted living facility. In addition words like unit or bed should be replaced by room or suite; or admissions and discharges should be replaced with move-in or move-out.
American Assisted Living Nurses Association (AALNA)
AALNA’s goal is to promote effective nursing practice in assisted living such that nurses as well as residents benefit. It is the only association dedicated exclusively for assisted living nurses. The organization is run by volunteer nurses whose goals include sharing best-practices, promoting the professional growth of AL nurses through education, research and public policy, and developing a network of AL nurses.
National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL)
The NCAL is the assisted living branch of the American Health Care Association. Its goal is to serve the needs of the assisted living community through advocacy, education, research, professional networking and quality initiatives. In addition to national advocacy, NCAL also fights for state-specific efforts
As the baby boomer generation ages, the need for sustained long-term care is going to be vital. ALFs will continue to be an integral part of the continuum of care. Each state will need to continue to enforce and establish new regulations to ensure the safety and well-being of society’s most vulnerable. Perhaps one of the most critical issues facing the future of assisted livings is funding. With economic hardships hitting most or all Americans, states will need to continue conversations surrounding financial aid for the elderly.
As seniors continue to age in place, assisted living facilities will need to continue building strong relationships with outside agencies such as hospice and home health agencies. Each of these levels of care may be vital for helping a resident remain in the assisted living even when their health is declining. Without such agencies, the transition to skilled nursing centers is a realistic possibility for many.
Portland Metro Guide to Assisted Living
National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Susman Insurance Agency
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)