Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently issued a statement on the creation of the Administration for Community Living. The goal is for people with disabilities and seniors to be able to live at home with the supports they need – participating in communities that value their contributions – rather than in nursing homes or other institutions. Secretary Sebelius’ statement read as follows:
“The Obama administration and my department have long been committed to promoting community living and finding new mechanisms to help ensure that the supports people with disabilities and seniors need to live in the community are accessible. Today, with the creation of the new Administration for Community Living (ACL), we are reinforcing this commitment by bringing together key HHS organizations and offices dedicated to improving the lives of those with functional needs into one coordinated, focused and stronger entity. The Administration for Community Living will bring together the Administration on Aging, the Office on Disability and the Administration on Developmental Disabilities into a single agency that supports both cross-cutting initiatives and efforts focused on the unique needs of individual groups, such as children with developmental disabilities or seniors with dementia.
This new agency will work on increasing access to community supports and achieving full community participation for people with disabilities and seniors. The Administration on Community Living will seek to enhance and improve the broad range of supports that individuals may need to live with respect and dignity as full members of their communities. These support needs go well beyond health care and include the availability of appropriate housing, employment, education, meaningful relationships and social participation. Building on President Obama’s Year of Community Living, the ACL will pursue improved opportunities for older Americans and people with disabilities to enjoy the fullest inclusion in the life of our nation.” For more information, please visit http://hhs.gov/acl.
But in San Francisco, this commitment to Community Living has always had “grass-roots” and local government support. One example is the Community Living Fund. In July 2007, based on extensive advocacy of members of the San Francisco Partnership and the Long Term Care Coordinating Council, the Mayor and Board of Supervisors created a $3 million Community Living Fund. This fund, which is annualized in the Dept. of Aging and Adult Services budget, is intended to reduce unnecessary institutionalization by increasing options for how and where older and disabled adults receive services. Adults of all ages with disabilities and at risk of institutionalization now have real choices about where and how they will receive services. A very broad array of supports can include case management, community based services, money management and home modification. Tricia Webb was one of the leaders in the effort to create the Community Living Fund and when the Board of Supervisors voted to establish the fund, Tricia handed an additional $327 to then Controller Ed Harrington from the proceeds of this Bake Sale to raise awareness on the steps of City Hall.
An article just last week in the k highlights the importance of the fund – you can find at http://www.healthycal.org/archives/7371.
A more detailed report to the Board of Supervisors, required annually, documents the progress and challenges of the Community Living Campaign in meeting the needs of those seeking community living options. You can find this report at http://www.sfhsa.org/asset/ReportsDataResources/CLF2011JantoJune.pdf.
The Institute on Aging is the lead Agency to provide services through the Community Living Fund in San Francisco. To learn more about the fund and how to make referrals, go to http://ioaging.org/services/clf_adults_disabilities_independent_services.html.
So where does the Community Living Campaign (CLC) fit in? We know that the challenges ahead are daunting, as the number of San Franciscans growing older with chronic conditions and disabilities is escalating. Because of the high cost of living and the stalled economy, many now are living alone with family far away. Family members and neighborhood leaders are looking to give those they care about the ability to have a good life while they age in place. Giving individuals this choice will only be possible with a huge, grass-roots effort to mobilize financial and social capital in service of this goal. Building public awareness, strengthening relationships and building kind and just communities is at the heart of the Community Living Campaign’s efforts. To learn more about CLC, the host of this blog, check out www.sfcommunityliving.org. Or “like” us on Facebook!