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A Letter from a Blueprint Partner on Recent Learning In Retirement Course



July 25, 2006

As a resident of Washtenaw County, I recently became aware of the Blueprint for Aging project and its efforts to involve the community in developing a comprehensive plan to meet the needs of our older adults both today and in the years to come.  The level of collaboration and commitment that various agencies, professionals, and consumers have brought to this effort is impressive.

So I was eager to take a six week course entitled “Raising a Public Voice for Long Term Care Reform” sponsored by the Blueprint for Aging and the Learning and Retirement Program of Turner Geriatric Clinic (part of the Geriatrics Center of the University of Michigan Health Systems). I was not disappointed; the course was excellent.  Taught by Carolyn Lejuste, Program Manager of the Michigan Disability Rights Coalition, the course provided background on crucial long term care issues facing the state of Michigan, examined the politics and legislation impacting these issues, and outlined the role that consumers can play in advocating for change.

I learned that among the most critical long term care issues facing Michigan is the need to control the spiraling cost of long term care in the face of increased demand as the state’s older population continues to grow.  In addition, Michigan’s long term care services/programs are often fragmented and difficult for consumers to access.  As Michigan’s aging population continues to grow, significant labor shortages in long term care workers are also anticipated. 


The course outlined efforts to reform the state’s long term care policy including development of Single Points of Entry (SPE) with a focus on “person centered” planning.  These SPE would serve as clearinghouses for long term care services and enable consumers to access comprehensive and consistent information.  They would also assess consumer eligibility for publicly funded long term care services.   Proposals to expand the Home and Community Based Medicaid Waiver program were also presented.  


Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the course was the continual emphasis the instructor placed on the advocacy role that consumers could play in promoting significant long term care reform.  She continually encouraged class members to become involved in  a number of concrete ways.  Detailed information on key long term care legislation was presented and we were encouraged to make state legislators aware of our viewpoints.  The role of the state Long Term Care Commission was outlined and we were urged to attend their monthly meetings.   Carolyn also provided contact information on the entities within our own communities that had filed applications to become SPE and suggested that we become involved in their planning process.  


As designed by the instructor, the course was a mixture of lecture and discussion.  Students represented a wide range of backgrounds and class discussions were lively and challenging. Each week numerous handouts, such as the Michigan Long Term Care Task Force Report, further enriched our learning.  I think my fellow classmates would agree that the course not only increased our awareness and knowledge of long term care issues, but also provided us with opportunities to participate in the discussion and decisions that will shape long term care policy in Michigan.   I commend the Blueprint for Aging and Learning in Retirement for offering this course and hope that this will be the first of many such courses. 

Beverly Mandich Bagozzi

2706 Maitland Dr.

Ann Arbor, MI 48105




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