Landmark National Summit Held on Affordable Assisted Living

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Assisted living provider Gardant Management Solutions spearheaded a national summit on one of the biggest issues facing the United States as Baby Boomers age into their retirement years.

"There is an absolute need to address the issue of affordable assisted living now"

A landmark national summit on Affordable Assisted Living was held last week in Rosemont, Illinois.

The summit, which was spearheaded by assisted living provider Gardant Management Solutions, was designed to create a national conversation on models for assisted living for low and middle income seniors who cannot afford many of the assisted living options that currently are available in the United States.

Participants included the Chief Executive Officers of the Assisted Living Federation of America, the American Senior Housing Association, and the National Investment Center; the Board Chair of the Center for Excellence in Senior Living; the Executive Director of the National Center for Assisted Living; and the Executive Director of the Affordable assisted Living Coalition.

Also participating in the summit were representatives from the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities and the National Governor’s Association Center for Best Practices as well as developers, operators and representatives of financing sources and managed care organizations.

Based in Bradley, Illinois, Gardant Management Solutions is the 14th largest provider of assisted living in the country and the leading provider of affordable assisted living in Illinois.

Given what we know about the demographics and socioeconomics of the Baby Boomers as they age into their retirement years and the focus on delivering quality health care in the lowest cost and least restrictive setting possible, participants agreed that there is an absolute need to address the issue of affordable assisted living now, says Rod Burkett, Gardant’s CEO and President.

The participants talked about this being an “issue whose time has come” and how it will be “one of the biggest issues that our country will face in the next 10 to 20 years,” says Burkett.

Assisted living can offer a wonderful residential alternative to a nursing home and can be much less expensive than nursing home care, says Burkett. Assisted living also can be less expensive than home health care.

One of the programs that was highlighted during a presentation on Medicaid Options for Assisted Living was the Illinois Supportive Living program.

Participants commented that the program is a “perfect model” for affordable assisted living, says Wayne Smallwood, who served as Co-Chair for the Summit. Wayne is the Executive Director of the Affordable Assisted Living Coalition.

The Supportive Living program combines apartment-style housing with personal assistance and support services such as three-daily meals, housekeeping and laundry. The emphasis is on personal choice, dignity, privacy and individuality.

“The summit participants provided valuable feedback on what needs to be done next,” says Burkett.

The ideas include defining what affordable assisted living is for the low income and the middle income market and what the key characteristics of successful affordable assisted living models are; becoming part of healthcare reform; identifying payment sources beyond Medicaid and Medicare; and showing how affordable assisted living can slow down the spend down of assets by older adults.

A much stronger political advocacy and educational effort also is needed.

During the coming weeks, our Summit Steering Committee will be establishing work groups to move forward on the steps that we need to take, says Burkett.

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Rick Banas
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