Because of frailties of aging or a developmental or physical disability, many people need help accomplishing activities of daily living and caring for their health. This help, referred to as long-term care, includes many different services, such as personal care, housekeeping or nursing. Long-term care is provided in people’s homes, in small and large residential care facilities or group homes, in nursing facilities and in the workplace.
Most long-term care is actually provided by family members, and people pay directly for a lot of the care they receive. Yet the government in Wisconsin still spends more than a billion dollars a year paying for care that Wisconsin residents themselves cannot afford.
To help determine how to improve long-term care, the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services spent more than two years during the mid-1990s gathering information not only from people who need long-term care, but also their relatives and service providers, as well as experts and taxpayers.
A new plan called Family Care was proposed in 1998 for consideration by citizens and their elected representatives. In his February 2006 State of the State speech, Governor Doyle announced plans to expand Family Care statewide and eliminate waiting lists for community-based long-term care programs during the next five years.
Wisconsin's Family Care Program
In the mid-1990s, a broad consensus developed on the need to redesign Wisconsin’s long-term care system, prompted by concerns with the cost and complexity of the long-term care system, inequities in availability, and by projections of an aging population’s growing demand for long-term care. Over the next few years, consumers, advocates, providers, state and local officials, and others collaborated to design a new approach to the provision of long-term care in Wisconsin. This new approach, named "Family Care," was designed to provide cost-effective, comprehensive and flexible long-term care that will foster consumers’ independence and quality of life, while recognizing the need for interdependence and support. Family Care was partially based on experience in developing the Wisconsin Partnership Program, which integrates all health and long-term care services into one inclusive benefit.
Family Care, authorized by the Governor and Legislature in 1998, serves people with physical disabilities, people with developmental disabilities and frail elders, with the specific goals of:
- Giving people better choices about where they live and what kinds of services and supports they get to meet their needs.
- Improving access to services.
- Improving quality through a focus on health and social outcomes.
- Creating a cost-effective system for the future.
Family Care has three major organizational components:
- Aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs), designed to be a single entry point where older people and people with disabilities and their families can get information and advice about a wide range of resources available to them in their local communities.
- Managed Care Organizations (MCOs), which manage and deliver the new Family Care benefit, which combines funding and services from a variety of existing programs into one flexible long-term care benefit, tailored to each individual’s needs, circumstances and preferences.
To find out more about where Family Care and IRIS benefits are offered in Wisconsin and where your Aging and Disability Resource Centers are, go to Helpful Links. There you can find how to contact your county Human Services Department, learn about Family Care Organizations and get complete information from Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. Helpful Links click here.