The Future of Eldercare

 

Latina - August 2010

As the former Florida Secretary for Aging, Conchy Bretos saw low-income Latino seniors living in terrible conditions – and it inspired her to create an assisted living facility that anyone could afford. " I saw people ending up in nursing homes who didn't need to be there, but they had no other place to go," says the Cuban-born Bretos. "Private assisted-living facilities cater only to those who can pay thousands of dollars a month – and most Hispanic seniors can't. I felt ashamed to live in a country so rich that neglects this group, and I made it my business to change that."

The Helen Sawyer Plaza, a sparkling but inexpensive Miami facility built in 1998 from a run-down housing project, was a huge success, and she's since brought her model to about 40 projects in 23 states. "We have nursing assistants who can get people out of bed, get them dressed and supervise medication, and we provide meals and exercise," she says. "With this program, the state Medicaid program saves about $48,000 per year per resident. Because of that, we get funding from [federal and state government programs], so the seniors pay little to nothing." And that's real progress. –F.C.

   

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