South Carolina faces unique and pressing challenges to improving its long-term care (LTC) system. It is vital that our state prepare to meet future demands while continuing to address the ongoing needs of older adults and people with disabilities.

Such efforts require focused attention and collaborative engagement to ensure improvements are made—and there is no time to waste! Nationwide, 10,000 people a day are turning 65. That demographic trend began in 2011 and will continue through 2029 as the Baby Boom generation fully reaches retirement. With many older adults living in or moving to South Carolina, our state’s population will continue to outpace much of the country in the growing number of older adults. The scope of that population shift will require a LTC system that is far more robust than the current continuum, and achieving that will require both creative thinking and direction.

It is that imperative which led to the formation of a statewide LTC Taskforce convened by the SC Institute of Medicine and Public Health (IMPH). In June of 2015, IMPH released a report with the 30 recommendations issued by that taskforce. Those recommendations address vital changes that are needed in our state across the spectrum of long-term services and supports (LTSS). They also underscore the urgent case for action driven by growing demand and ever-increasing need. In an effort to ensure that the Taskforce’s recommendations receive focused attention, IMPH formed an Implementation Leadership Council (ILC) of key stakeholders to prioritize the recommendations and guide implementation. The formation of the ILC is a direct outcome of the capstone recommendation of the taskforce that a formal and structured implementation process bring collective focus, leadership and accountability to each of their recommendations (Recommendation 30). The ILC began its work in the fall of 2015 with a focus on key areas of collective momentum and strategic opportunity. The following assertions quickly emerged and became guiding themes for the first year of the ILC’s work:

  • Promoting collaborative leadership is vital to the immediate success and long-term sustainability of improvements;
  • Laying groundwork through coordination and connectivity is critical to facilitating future efforts and achieving essential outcomes;
  • Tracking and evaluating progress in implementing recommendations requires shared accountability and transparency across diverse partner groups; and
  • Balancing growing demand with increasing costs will require new thinking about how LTC services can be delivered in the most appropriate, cost-effective and least-restrictive settings.

The intent of this progress report is to reflect the collective momentum around the prioritized recommendations and to highlight the key points of progress along with horizon considerations. The pages that follow provide detailed summaries for each of the prioritized recommendations, reflecting a diverse array of issues that have been addressed to date by the ILC members and collaborative partners. Although considerable progress has been made in each of the areas included in this report, the need for increased attention remains in vital areas such as: adequacy of the LTC workforce, capacity of LTC services and informational resources and effective return on investment for both the public and private sectors.