Join Us for Falls Prevention Awareness Day on Sept. 23rd

As part of the Massachusetts Falls Prevention Coalition, the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts will be co-hosting the 8th annual Falls Prevention Awareness Day, which is taking place in the Great Hall of the State House in Boston on September 23rd from 10:00am to 1:00pm.

The event will follow the National Council on Aging’s theme of Strong Today, Falls Free® Tomorrow and includes a list of speakers and presenters. HCA’s Legislator of the Year Senator Patricia Jehlen will be giving welcoming remarks and Executive Office of Elder Affairs Secretary Ann Hartstein will be a featured speaker. Informational tables will line the Great Hall for legislative staff and members of the public to gather helpful resources on falls prevention strategies and local programs across the state.

There is no cost to attend this event. For more information, see the official flier for Falls Prevention Awareness Day.

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Alliance Comments on Proposed LTC Insurance Regulations

Fresh off the heels of the Department of Labor Standards’ decision to drop private-pay home care licensing, the state’s Division of Insurance is accepting comments on regulations related to long-term care insurance.

The Home Care Alliance offered oral and written testimony on proposed amendments to 211 CMR 65.00 at a public hearing on August 1st. The regulations aim to set new standards for long-term care insurance policies, rate setting and cost controls and creates various consumer protections.

More importantly for home care agencies, they propose that home care agencies must meet standards set by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs in order to be covered under long-term care insurance plans. Given the impending gap in state oversight with DLS’ new regulations, the fact that those agencies with elder services contracts represent a fraction of private pay home care agencies, and that many agencies relying on long-term care insurance do not work with Aging Service Access Points, the Alliance suggested the following measures:

  • The Home Care Alliance’s Accreditation Program and unexpired DLS licenses should be placeholder requirements for long-term care insurance coverage until the state and advocates can pass meaningful licensure measures.
  • Home Care Alliance Accreditation allows workers who are not home health aides/certified nursing assistants to provide certain services in the home and DOI’s regulations should reflect that flexibility.
  • In the “sample definitions,” the Activities of Daily Living do not include “grooming and personal hygiene,” which is a traditional ADL and one that is vital to the well-being of people wishing to avoid facility-based care.

More details are available in the full copy of HCA’s comments, which can be obtained by contacting James Fuccione at the Alliance.

Those agencies or advocates wishing to comment have until 5:00pm on Friday, August 15th. Comments can be emailed to and the subject line should read “Docket No. G2014-0.”

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Controversial Hospice Article Draws Response

photo credit: NY Times/Ruby Washington

Once again, the actions of the few bad actors in home health and hospice are getting media attention rather than the vast majority of agencies that are devoted to providing high quality care to keep people comfortable and at home.

In an investigative report, the Washington Post highlights findings that the number of patients discharged alive from hospice rose by 50 percent between 2002 and 2012. The article also highlights numbers from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) stating that in 2011, nearly 60 percent of Medicare’s hospice expenditure of $13.8 billion went toward patients who stay on hospice care longer than six months. The article singles out for-profit hospices in particular, but still puts all hospices in a negative context.

In fact, the article has prompted responses from the National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) as well as the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO). In a letter to the editor, NAHC ends their rebuttal by writing:

We must all do our part to ensure that hospice remains a viable choice for terminally ill patients and their loved ones.  Articles of this type may unwittingly discourage use of hospice care, thereby denying terminally ill patients and their families access to vital services that support and comfort them during and in the aftermath of one of life’s most difficult journeys.  Under these circumstances, no one is well served.

The New York Times’ “New Old Age Blog” digs much deeper into the Washington Post’s findings and notes the many layers to the issue and why those numbers may have surfaced. For instance, the blogger writes:

What’s happening here? Hospices have lamented for years that dying patients wait too long to call, enrolling at the eleventh hour when they could have benefited months earlier. Now, we’re hearing more about patients doing as hospice believers (including me) have urged, calling earlier in the course of a terminal disease — and then, in a substantial minority of cases, getting bounced.

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Advocacy Alert: Send a Message to Support Telehealth and Pediatric Palliative Care

The Massachusetts House and Senate have named members of a select “conference committee” that will work to negotiate differences between the House and Senate budgets for a final version to be sent to Governor Patrick.

Please visit the Home Care Alliance’s Legislative Action Center and send a message to the conference committee members to support two important budget amendments. The message will automatically be sent to conference committee members.

The first (Senate Amendment #718) would create MassHealth reimbursement for telehealth services provided by a certified home health agency.  Language was included in previous budgets with weaker language that did not compel MassHealth to act. This year we again seek the inclusion of this cost-saving service with the words “the commonwealth shall recognize telehealth remote patient monitoring provided by home health agencies as a service to clients otherwise reimbursable through Medicaid” as stated in Senate amendment #718.

The second amendment (Senate amendment # 629) would add $674,789 to the state’s pediatric palliative care program, which serves the unmet physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs of children in Massachusetts with life-limiting illnesses.

Since both of these amendments were approved in the Senate budget, but not the House, advocates have to urge that conference committee members support the inclusion of the amendments in their negotiated version. If you live in the area of one of the conference committee members and would like to advocate for these amendments directly, the committee members are listed below with link to their profile pages (including contact info) on the state legislature’s website.

It only takes a minute to send a message and advocate for these important issues!

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Caregiver Videos: Using Home Care As A Supplement to Family Care

In the eighth video in our series for family caregivers, Lynda Giovanello of Walpole Area VNA discusses how home care can be used to supplement — not replace — care from family members.

To view the full series, visit our YouTube channel.  To access library of hundreds of care giver resources on a variety of subjects, visit, who produced the videos with us.
Continue reading “Caregiver Videos: Using Home Care As A Supplement to Family Care”

Caregiver Videos: Introduction to Occupational Therapy

In the seventh video in our series for family caregivers, Geoffrey Abraskin, PT, DPT of Amedisys Home Health & Hospice Care discusses what Occupational Therapy is and how it can be used in a home care setting.

To view the full series, visit our YouTube channel.  To access library of hundreds of care giver resources on a variety of subjects, visit, who produced the videos with us.
Continue reading “Caregiver Videos: Introduction to Occupational Therapy”

HCA Promotes National Health Care Decisions Day

The Home Care Alliance supports National Healthcare Decisions Day (NHDD), which is April 16th, and was created to educate and empower the public about advance care planning – the ongoing process of discussing and clarifying the current state of a person’s goals, values and preferences for future medical care.  It has amassed a national following, with over 1,000 organizations participating each year, including the American Association of Retired Persons, the American Medical Association, and other state and local organizations.

The NHDD website has great information, including how to obtain an advance directive, legal resources that are available, and how to engage your family in these important conversations about one’s care.

In Massachusetts, it can’t be assumed that a spouse or other family member will be authorized to make medical decisions on their loved one’s behalf in all situations or settingsIn Massachusetts, if a person has lost the ability to make medical decisions (e.g. because of unconsciousness, coma, dementia or other mental limitations), it is their “health care agent” who is legally authorized to make medical decisions on their behalf.

To plan for future medical care, all adults ages 18 and older, whether they are healthy or sick, should name their health care agent by filling out and signing a legal form called a health care proxy form.

A health care proxy is the only legally authorized advance directive in Massachusetts. “Advance Directive” is a general term referring to a written document for future medical care in the event that a person loses capacity to make health care decisions.

For more information on Healthcare Decisions Day, visit

Information on other state-specific resources are available on this webpage.

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Caregiver Videos: Introduction to Physical Therapy

Earlier this year, we introduced the Care Giver Video Resource Center, our YouTube series for family care providers about home care and home care agencies.

In the seventh video in the series, Geoffrey Abraskin, PT, DPT of Amedisys Home Health & Hospice Care discusses what Physical Therapy is and how it can be used in a home care setting.

To view the full series, visit our YouTube channel.  To access library of hundreds of care giver resources on a variety of subjects, visit, who produced the videos with us. Continue reading “Caregiver Videos: Introduction to Physical Therapy”

Introducing the Caregiver Video Resource Center

Working with families is an integral part of home care agencies do. Unlike most other forms of healthcare, their work is done in their clients’ residences and often alongside the 65,000,000 family members, friends, and neighbors who help care for an elderly or disabled person at home.

To help care providers understand what an agency can do for their loved one, the Alliance has produced a series of short, instructional videos with The videos feature a variety of home health professionals including nurses, therapists, owners, and home care aides answering the most common questions families ask.

Each Monday, we will feature a new video here on the newsfeed.  In the first, Geoffrey Abraskin, PT, DPT of Amedisys Home Health discusses the basics of choosing a home care agency:

There are currently nine videos available both at, and on the Alliance’s YouTube channel, with additional ones planned.  You can also subscribe to  ElderCareSKILLS to access these and hundreds of additional videos designed for family caregivers.

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2013 Private Care Guides Available

The Alliance will begin shipping copies of its new 2013 Guide to Private Home Care Services next week.

The Guide is designed to educate clients and families about their private home care options and to help them choose from our 132 member agencies that accept private pay, including those who have completed our Agency Accreditation Program.  Contents include:

  • Introduction:
    • Understanding What Home Care Is;
    • Understanding the Agency Advantage (New!);
    • Assessing Your Needs;
    • Exploring Payment Options;
    • Knowing About Agency Accreditation;
    • Finding & Interviewing Agencies;
  • Agency Profiles of 132 Private Care Agencies
  • County-By-County Cross Reference

The Alliance will ship copies of the Guide to all members, as well as every hospital case management office, Aging Service Access Point (ASAP), Council on Aging (COA), Geriatric Care Manager (GCM), Veterans’ Center, and dozens of other referral sources. Additional copies are available for order on our website, as is a downloadable PDF versionGuides are always available free of charge with no shipping charges on copies of 50 or less.

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