"Community First" represents the Commonwealth's commitment to empower and support elders and individuals with disabilities to live with dignity and independence in the community. There are several reasons for putting community first. Most importantly, individuals with long-term support needs prefer to remain in the community and direct their own services rather than receive care or services in a nursing facility or other institutional setting. In addition, in many instances, home and community-based supports and services can be provided more cost-effectively than services in a nursing facility or institution.

The Commonwealth's dedication to community-based supports is embodied in the Community First Olmstead Plan, a strategy and action plan for ensuring that people with disabilities and elders, who collectively make up more than 20 percent of the Massachusetts population, have access to community-living opportunities that address each individual's diverse needs, abilities, and backgrounds. EOHHS agencies collaborate to support the Community First policy agenda and the Olmstead Plan by expanding, strengthening and re-aligning existing resources, and integrating community-based long-term supports.

To advance this priority, EOHHS has identified a number of strategic goals, highlighted below.

Strategic goals supporting Community First

Goal 1: Increase the use of home and community-based settings as an alternative to institutional care

Goal 2: Expand access to home and community-based long-term supports while also improving the capacity and quality of those supports

Goal 3: Improve the capacity, quality and availability of community-based long term care service and supports

Goal 4: Increase the supports available to informal caregivers such as, respite and supportive services in order to encourage continuation of informal care giving

This information is from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.