The Community First Olmstead Plan is a work in progress. The six goals provide a framework for ongoing and future work focused on achieving the mandate and the spirit of the Olmstead decision: people with disabilities across the lifespan have a right to live in their communities.
A vision for the future
Empower and support people with disabilities and elders to live with dignity and independence in the community by expanding, strengthening, and integrating systems of community-based long-term supports that are person-centered, high in quality and provide optimal choice.
Focusing on six critical goal areas, the Plan provides a roadmap for the future of community-based support for elders and people with disabilities. Strategic short-term objectives describe an eighteen-month course of action for the Administration in crucial regulatory, fiscal and program development arenas which will be contingent on the availability of re-aligned as well as new public and private long-term support funding.
Why is an Olmstead Plan important to Massachusetts?
The elder and disabled populations in Massachusetts are growing. They are a diverse group of individuals and many depend on state-supported programs. With a broad array of home and community-based services, including case management and housing supports, individuals may live in less restrictive and sometimes less expensive community-based settings where many wish to remain.
- Massachusetts has a total population of over 6.4 million people, including approximately 13% (roughly 832,000) who are 65 years and older.
- In the Massachusetts general population, the likelihood of having a disability varies by age. For people between the ages of 16 and 64 years of age, 11 percent (more than 470,000 individuals) report having a disability. For those individuals over the age of 65, the percentage of people who report having a disability is 36 percent (close to 300,000 individuals).
- As of August 2008, there were approximately 25,000 children with disabilities, 203,000 adults under the age of 65 with disabilities, and 107,000 seniors enrolled in MassHealth.
- On any given day, the average number of MassHealth clients (over the age of 18) residing in nursing homes is approximately 28,300.
- The current federal and state long-term care financing system was originally designed for institutional rather than community care and as a result, it has tended to favor institutional over community care.
- Among MassHealth elder and disabled members living in the community, as well as among those who are not MassHealth members, there is a desire for more access to home and community-based supports.
- Employment opportunities, critical for supporting elders and people with disabilities in leading self-sufficient and independent lives are limited in Massachusetts. People with disabilities in Massachusetts are almost three times as likely to be unemployed as their non-disabled peers.
- Access to sufficient affordable and accessible housing is often one of the greatest challenges to successful transition from institutional care to independent living.
- The ability of elders and people with disabilities to choose community over institutional care is affected by the lack of available community options.