Tuesday, Nov. 23

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$300,000 federal grant helps keep
Illinois seniors independent    
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[NOV. 23, 2004]  SPRINGFIELD -- Gov. Rod Blagojevich announced Monday that the Illinois Department on Aging was awarded a grant from the federal government to help people with disabilities and long-term illnesses remain in their homes rather than being placed in a nursing home.

"A key component of Illinois' long-term care systems reform is to place more emphasis on the development of home and community-based services," Gov. Blagojevich said. "Without the additional services, too many Illinois seniors will be forced to enter nursing facilities when they could continue living independently in their homes near their families and friends."

The $300,000 will assist in implementing two new laws that were signed by the governor earlier this year. Senate Bill 2880 outlined the parameters for the state to rebalance its long-term care system by enhancing home-based services so that Illinois' seniors will have access to the services needed to prevent nursing facility placement. House Bill 5057 requires the Department on Aging to assist current nursing home residents who wish to relocate safely to community settings. The grant will be used to inventory home- and community-based services that are available to Illinois' seniors, assess service and funding gaps, and establish quality standards.

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"I've never met an older person who would rather live in an institution rather than in the comforts of their own home," said Charles D. Johnson, director of the Illinois Department on Aging. "Staying at home will allow them to remain independent and contribute to the community."

The federal Health and Human Services Department distributed 52 grants totaling $31 million as part of President Bush's "New Freedom Initiative," which promotes the goal of community living for individuals with disabilities and long-term illnesses.

[News release from the governor's office]

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