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American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging.

The Beginnings

While the for-profit nursing home industry had its own representative organization in Washington, D.C., not-for-profits lacked a national voice. On Nov. 26, 1961, a group of dedicated aging-services leaders met to discuss the role and mission of nonprofit providers of long term care and senior housing, and the American Association of Homes for the Aging (AAHA) was born.

The 1960s

AAHA was instrumental in early legislative efforts such as the creation of the Older Americans Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and the Hill-Burton Act. The association advocated for rent subsidies for the elderly in need of housing.

The 1970s

Negotiations with the National Association of Non-Profit Retirement Housing about unification began as well; this was accomplished in 1984.

Throughout the late 1970s, it was recognized that AAHA's constituents included the facility and the residents. AAHA's "Social Components of Care" philosophy evolved into the first resident's bill of rights.

There was also much emphasis on promoting the "homes without walls" concept of community outreach, and AAHA members were encouraged to branch out into home and community-based services. Early efforts at regulating nursing homes and securing funding for the Older Americans Act were the main legislative priorities. There were perpetual threats to the Section 202 senior housing program, with AAHA joining forces with other aging groups to keep it alive.

In 1978, AAHA and 19 other organizations founded the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO). AAHSA remains an active participant today.

The 1980s

AAHA participated in Institute of Medicine hearings on nursing home quality of care and in the development of the nursing home reform law of 1987 (part of that year's Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act), as well as the regulations that followed the passage of OBRA '87. AAHA initiated successful media and coalition efforts to preserve the Section 202 program throughout the decade.

In the early 1980s, the association began its group purchasing program and created the Retirement Housing Professional (RHP) training program and credential. The Continuing Care Accreditation Commission accredited its first facility in the same year.

The 1990s

A number of AAHA's recommended solutions to the nation's long term care finance problem were included in a limited health reform package passed by Congress. AAHA also played a key rote, under the leadership of the Commission on Ethics in Long Term Care, in reducing the use of restraints through stepped up training and communications.

The association worked with the Catholic Health Association of the United States on the development of the Social Accountability Program.

In 1993, the association changed its name to the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) to more closely reflect the membership.

The 2000s

The Institute for the Future of Aging Services (IFAS) was established within AAHSA. IFAS is a policy research center uniquely designed to address how to most effectively meet the needs of older citizens and redefine the nature of quality aging services.

AAHSA had a lead role in the Assisted Living Workgroup, a group of nearly 50 organizations that came together beginning in 2001 to develop recommendations designed to ensure more consistent quality assisted living services.

In 2002, AAHSA launched Quality First with other organizations in the aging services field. The mission of Quality First is to achieve excellence in aging services and to earn public trust. Also in 2002, AAHSA created the Center for Aging Services Technologies. This major new initiative has brought together researchers from universities, technology companies, facility administrators and government representatives to drive awareness, development and application of technologies that will improve services for the aging.

In 2003, AAHSA refocused its spring event as the Future of Aging Services Conference, with an emphasis on technology, policy and research. AAHSA's Annual Meeting & Exposition continues to be the largest long term care conference and expo in North America.

Bruce Rosenthal is director or media relations for AAHSA. He may be reached at 202-508-9499 or
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Title Annotation:Histories of Associations
Author:Rosenthal, Bruce
Publication:Contemporary Long Term Care
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Nov 1, 2003
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