Operating in Illinois as a provider of services for older adults has become increasingly difficult over the last several years.
While it’s true that our state’s budget in recent years has contributed to these challenges, providers have also been faced with rapidly increasing numbers of older adults and limited resources with which to serve them.
The Illinois Department on Aging has come up with a way to address the projected growth in our aging community that will allow us to continue to serve this population, regardless of their Medicaid eligibility status. Many of us throughout the network understand that the state cannot sit by and do nothing to address the growing senior population and the corresponding increase in demand for services.
This is why I offer my gratitude and willingness to the state and the Department on Aging as they launch the Community Reinvestment Program. Change can be frightening, but the department has continually engaged our network in this process and solicited input to minimize the impact of such a significant undertaking.
We’ve received assurances from the department that the safety and security of our clients remains a fundamental component of their mission to serve this vulnerable community and that optional services providers under the Community Reinvestment Program will be held to security standards outlined in their contracts.
As with any new initiative, there are questions that remain and concerns that arise. However, I’m confident the department will continue to work closely with the aging network to ensure issues are quickly addressed and resolved. Providing our seniors more flexible options for the services they need is not only beneficial to them, it’s also essential for the sustainability of all of our social services programs.
From a business perspective, I understand the need for such a change. From a personal perspective, I believe that finding new, innovative and cost-efficient ways to serve our clients and increase the menu of options they can choose from to address their unmet needs is long overdue and is a necessary step to provide the best possible service.
Shana A. Holmes is CEO of the Southeastern Illinois Area Agency on Aging Inc.