Bonnie Kantor-Burman, New Director, Ohio Department of Aging
Sharing her thoughts about aging in Ohio
February 8, 2011
When Governor John Kasich appointed me as the new director of the Ohio Department of Aging in January, he was very clear about his support of the Department's mission and vision. Like all of us in the Department, he is dedicated to providing choice for our elders as their care needs change. He was equally clear in describing our state's current budget crisis. Ohio can't afford to keep doing what it has been doing; we need to transform the way we provide health care and long-term care for Ohio's citizens.
This is a tremendous opportunity for a major "sea change" in where and how we develop and deliver aging services and programs. I believe we can build a cost-effective system of long-term care services and supports for Ohioans that focuses on quality and person-centered care and results in positive outcomes for residents, staff and providers alike. In my travels I have been privileged to see the genuine differences that new approaches have made, and are making, in the lives of elders and families across this nation. I have seen that both the person being cared for and the one offering the care benefit from a person-centered relationship and its component parts.
Person-centered care, or care that is individualized and embraces choice and autonomy, is my passion. My goal is to help our elders and those who serve them to lead self-directed lives wherever they receive care or wherever they call home.
The "Simple Rules for the 21st Century Health Care System," issued by the Institute of Medicine, calls for the consumer to be the source of control, for knowledge to be shared, and for information to flow freely. Or, as Donald Berwick, MD, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services describes how care should be provided, "Nothing about me, without me." However, increased autonomy needs to be balanced with increased responsibility. While I am a strong supporter of rebalancing our long-term care system, I am also a strong advocate for rebalancing responsibility. I believe in the concept of preventive gerontology, a wellness- and behavior-driven model of life and care across the lifespan. I believe when we take personal responsibility for our health and well-being, we can reduce health care costs in Ohio, while improving the quality of our lives. Or, put another way, we all started aging when we were born. What we do in our 20s, 30s and 40s has an impact on our health and how we feel in our 60s, 70s and 80s. Let's cast a wide net reaching across the life span and help Ohioans live longer, healthier and more active lives.
Now is the time for "what ifs" in Ohio. What if we do things differently? What if we change the way services are provided? Our goal appears to be simple: self-directed lives for our elders and those who care for them. But, it's like ducks on a pond. When you look at ducks on the surface, they glide ever so smoothly and effortlessly. However, when you look below the surface at their little legs and webbed feet, you realize that they are scrambling as fast and furiously as they can. So it is with us. If we want to achieve our goal, we MUST paddle at lightning speed to get there.
One of my favorite quotes is attributed to the late Yogi Berra. He supposedly stated, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." This journey to reform and enhance our array of long-term care services and supports will be made up of twists, turns and forks in the road. I hope that you will join us on this road. I believe that together we can reform and enhance the quality and efficiency of our health care system, strengthen long-term care options that give Ohio elders more choices about their care, and help healthy, active Ohioans keep up the good work.
About Aging Issues
Twice each month, the Ohio Department of Aging delivers Aging Issues, a column from the Director that examines topics of interest to older Ohioans, their family members and others who care for and serve them. Aging Issues is intended for personal use as well as re-publication in newspapers, newsletters and other publications with older adults as a target audience.
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