In the fall of 1979, Governor Brennan appointed a “Task Force on Long Term Care for Adults” to study the systems of long term care as they stood and bring back policy recommendations to the administration. In October of 1980 the task force presented the Governor with “Long Term Care Dilemmas: Perceptions and Recommendations”
This report provided 50 recommendations on improving long term care, from funding to advocacy. Among the task force’s priorities were: improving wages for employees, providing subsidies to family caregivers, writing a “Residents’ Bill of Rights”, and focusing regulations on the things that impact consumers’ quality of life.
Systems are slow to change – when complicated policies are built over years based on societal assumptions and bureaucracies arise that give power to certain groups and leaders, the status quo is often seen as both better and easier than trying something new.
When faced with intractable systemic problems, the people who administrate those systems can be cautious in the face of calls for reform. A common step is to create a taskforce or commission a report to study the issue and bring back recommendations.
While careful evaluation of problems and potential solutions is important, much too often the movement forward ends there. Caring people with years of experience take months or years to develop detailed plans and recommendations, only to see those reports gather dust while policymakers argue over details and funding and implementation.
Here are some of the reports that have been funded by our legislature in the last few decades, filled with plans that have never been executed:
1973 – Report to the Appropriations Committeewith Recommendations to Adopt Basic Policies to Guide the Appropriation of State Funds for Social Services
1980 – Long Term Care Dilemmas – Perceptions and Recommendations
1996 – Report of the Assisted Living Task Force
1997 – Final Report of the Commission to Determine the Adequacy of Services to Persons with Mental Retardation
2003 – Roadmap for Change: Maine’s Response to the Olmstead Decision – Work Group for Community-Based Living
2008 – Final Report of the Blue Ribbon Commission to Study the Future of Home-based and Community-based Care