In 1974, Governor Francis L. Sargent set up the Department of Elder Affairs as a cabinet position within the state government of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The Secretary of Elder Affairs, Jack Leff, visited the Franklin County Commissioners in the winter of 1974 and explained that there would be money available to serve elders across the state. The Franklin County Commissioners lost no time in exploring this possibility. The County Human Services Coordinator, Ted Harrison, was assigned the task of making
arrangements for a new organization.
On April 18, 1974, The Franklin County Home Health Care, Inc. made application for a Project Grant for the proposed Franklin County Home Care Corporation for the project year 5/1/74 to 4/30/75 for the amount of $82,000 ($20,500 of which was an in-kind contribution). The grant provided for the hiring of an Executive Director, Community Coordinator, Fiscal Manager, Intake Supervisor, Case Worker, Secretary and office equipment. The Charter was signed on September 19, 1974 and the date of Incorporation was July 22, 1974.
On October 1, 1975, LifePath was the first Home Care Corporation to be designated as an Area Agency on Aging. Throughout the 1980s, the agency continued the start of the home care program with area planning, administering the meals program and working with local Councils on Aging. During that decade, the Adult Family Care program was added, along with Protective Services and Nursing Home Ombudsman (now known as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program), and Information and Referral service began.
The 1990s were a time of continued growth, adding nursing assessment and evaluation for various services, housing supports at residences, and the expansion of services for persons with disabilities through personal care assistance. Following the Olmstead decision of the US Supreme Court in 1999, emphasis on “care in the least restrictive setting” led to multiple policy initiatives focusing on consumer directed care, person-centered care and the expansion of home- and community-based options. New programs added a variety of long-term supports in the community and strengthened the agency’s capacity to serve persons who would otherwise be in nursing facilities. Recognizing that health insurance is a key issue for elders, the agency began to operate the SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) program in the late nineties to assist all Medicare beneficiaries; this program has mushroomed in complexity since its inception.
The new millennium emphasized assistance to caregivers, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and persons with dementia. All three of these groups are expanding while the demographic of older persons, especially those over 85, are the fastest growing part of the US population. The current mandate of the Affordable Care Act, with its “triple aim” of improving the experience of care for individuals, improving the health of populations, and lowering per capita costs, includes times of care transitions and linkages of clinical healthcare providers with community partners.
The original intent and evolution of LifePath over four decades has us ready to meet the current challenges and place the consumer at the center of opportunities for healthy living.