Center to Support Alternative Care for Elderly, Disabled

Center to Support Alternative Care for Elderly, Disabled

GSSW to house network for home-, community-based services

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The Graduate School of Social Work will be headquarters for a federally funded center that will support the expansion of home- and community-based services for the elderly and disabled.

Tentatively named the Resource Network for Home and Community Based Services, the center will be under the direction of Assoc. Prof. Kevin Mahoney (GSSW). Under a contract with the Department of Health and Human Services, the center will work with several states to develop innovative collaborations that will provide high quality, cost-efficient care to persons with disabilities.

As part of its mission, the center will sponsor national and community forums on home- and community-based care to help foster such partnerships between federal and state officials and consumers. Other center activities will include providing states with technical assistance in designing service approaches and care systems, developing a resource inventory of relevant research and other data, and addressing the information needs of state officials pertaining to long-term care issues.

"The two central ideas behind this center are choice and collaboration," said Mahoney, who arrived at GSSW this year after teaching at Yale University, and the universities of Connecticut, California-San Francisco and Maryland. "Instead of a top-down solution, instead of bringing in a group of experts to talk at them, we're enabling states to work with experts and advocates to develop their own means of providing care."

"We're very fortunate to have such an outstanding researcher and colleague join our ranks," said GSSW Dean June Gary Hopps. "The establishment of the Resource Network will, we expect, greatly enhance the school's reputation and bring it significant new visibility. Another very positive aspect of this initiative is that it brings to GSSW an excellent staff of research associates who are well-recognized in the field of aging."
Assoc. Prof. Kevin Mahoney (GSSW) will direct the new center.

Most of the 13 million Americans with disabilities, many of them elderly, receive care from their families, Mahoney said. But a growing number with no family care-givers receive services through state Medicaid programs, which are generally geared toward institution-based care, such as nursing homes. Consumers, however, overwhelmingly prefer home- and community-based care, he added.

"People should be able to find care they need in their homes or communities, and public policy should not force them into institutions because there is a lack of alternatives," Mahoney said. "States, consumer advocates and the federal government can learn from one another how to provide affordable, responsive care systems, and that's what the center hopes to create: an opportunity for that learning to take place."

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