- Written by Barbara Bodzin, Executive Director, LifePath
- Published: 27 June 2019
Throughout the changing landscape of the past 45 years, LifePath has stayed true to its mission to provide options for independence and enhance the quality of life of those we serve through person centered care and support of caregivers. Core to our success has been the outstanding skill and dedication of staff, volunteers, board members, community partners and the generosity of so many, who have enabled LifePath to thrive and carry out our mission.
On July 22, 1974, Franklin County Home Care Corporation (FCHCC), now known as LifePath, was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation at the request of the Commonwealth, in order to provide the state-funded Home Care Program to persons 60 years of age and older. The Corporation was authorized to assist elders with services to prolong their lives and enhance well being. Our designated catchment area included the 26 towns of Franklin County and the 4 Worcester County towns of Athol, Petersham, Phillipston and Royalston.
On October 1, 1975, our expansion began, as FCHCC was designated as a federally funded Area Agency on Aging. Area planning, providing in-home services, administering the meals program, and working with local Councils on Aging continued throughout the 1980s. During that decade, the Adult Family Care program was added; Information and Referral services began, as well as Protective Services and the Nursing Home Ombudsman program.
The 1990s was a time of continued growth, where supportive services were added to select housing complexes and the agency amended its Articles of Organization to expand its focus and services to younger persons with disabilities through the Personal Care Assistance program. The Olmstead decision of the US Supreme Court in 1999, with emphasis on “care in the least restrictive setting,” was a landmark act which identified the civil right of the individual to receive parity of services within the community. This resulted in a major shift and multiple policy initiatives focusing on consumer-directed and person-centered care. Capacity and funding was redirected to serve individuals who would otherwise be in nursing facilities to expansion of home and community based programs.
“Today, LifePath has over 40 programs and service delivery models, and we are able to offer long-term care services across the income and age spectrum.”
Recognizing that health insurance was another key issue, the agency began to operate the SHINE program in the late nineties to help navigate Medicare and supplemental insurance benefits. The new millennium brought awareness of the need to establish programs to assist grandparents raising grandchildren and support caregivers of persons with dementia.
Our recognition of the growing population in need of in-home services and vision to best serve the community led us down the path of grant funding and pursuing the generous support of donors and business sponsors to fill gaps in care. Today, LifePath has over 40 programs and service delivery models, and we are able to offer long-term care services across the income and age spectrum. LifePath has also expanded its geographic reach, with some of our programs extending beyond Franklin County and the North Quabbin area into Worcester, Berkshire, Hampshire and Hampden counties.