Thursday, May 14, 2009

New "Quality Council" to Advise on Independent Living Services

On May 12, 2009, the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, through its Office of Long-Term Living, announced creation of a new advisory council to focus on "quality management of in-home and community services" provided in the Commonwealth.

The DoA's press release, entitled "
Council Formed to Advise on Improving Services to Older Adults, People with Disabilities," briefly explained the need and the objectives:

The Pennsylvania Department of Aging and the Office of Long-Term Living today announced the formation of a 15-member Quality Council that will advise on new policies and procedures to ensure quality management of in-home and community services.

“Many older citizens and those with disabilities prefer to live independently and at home -- rather than in a nursing facility -- so we want to make sure that the services we provide are the best that can be offered,” said Secretary of Aging John Michael Hall.

“The new council brings together experts from across Pennsylvania to help us improve on our programs.”

The Office of Long-Term Living will receive the council’s recommendations, based on its surveys, research and reports, to help provide the highest quality of assistance to the thousands of consumers who receive services in their homes. These services include attendant care, transportation, home-delivered meals for older adults, home health and personal assistance services. * * *
The new council is a mix of state employees (six members appointed from the staff of DPW's Office of Long-Term Living) and Pennsylvania citizens (nine members).

The Press release did not identify the staff members, but did identify the public members, four of whom live in Philadelphia:
  • Jack Armbruster, Erie
  • Carl Bailey, Philadelphia
  • Kimberly Byrd, Philadelphia
  • Richard Kiel, Fayetteville
  • Carol Marfisi, Philadelphia
  • German Parodi, Philadelphia
  • Kimberly Pirilla-Scalise, Belle Vernon
  • Dorothy Robison, Lancaster
  • Sue Ellen Stelevich, Kingston
Given the growing need both in rural communities and in western Pennsylvania, I wonder why there is no representative from a sparsely populated county, and no representative from Allegheny County, which have significant senior populations.

Regardless, the announcement of such a "Quality Council" monitor to provide input about independent living regulations on an advisory basis to State Government is a step forward.

As the Commonwealth's population ages (creating demand), as federal funding diminishes (reducing nursing home services), and as new technologies evolve (supporting or monitoring services provided at home or in
personal care homes), "quality control" should remain a primary concern.