Section 4. The department shall be the principal agency of the commonwealth to mobilize the human, physical, and financial resources available to plan, develop, and implement innovative programs to insure the dignity and independence of elderly persons, including the planning, development, and implementation of a home care program for the elderly in the communities of the commonwealth.
The department shall also serve as an advocate for the needs of the adult handicapped as these needs and services overlap the needs and services of elderly persons.
To accomplish the objectives hereinbefore set forth, the secretary is hereby authorized:
(a) to provide assistance to communities in solving local problems with regard to elderly persons including, but not limited to, problems in identifying and coordinating local resources to serve the needs of elderly persons;
(b) to facilitate communications and the free flow of information between communities and the offices, agencies, and employees of the commonwealth;
(c) to encourage and assist communities to plan, develop and implement home care programs which shall be operated either by agencies organized by the commonwealth or any political subdivision thereof or by nonprofit corporations organized under chapter one hundred and eighty and which shall be designated by the department. Any hospital or nursing home licensed by the department of public health pursuant to the provisions of chapter one hundred and eleven shall not be eligible to operate home care programs under this chapter. A majority of the governing body of the aforesaid home care providers shall be persons sixty years of age or older who reside in the cities or towns served by said provider. A majority of the governing body of the aforesaid home care providers, except those serving the city of Boston, shall be appointed by the councils on aging of the cities and towns served by said provider.
The secretary may contract with a home care provider that does not comply with the provisions relating to the composition of the governing body if such home care provider, prior to entering into such contract, shall have presented a plan, approved by the secretary, of adoption of by-laws requiring a majority of such governing body to be composed of persons sixty years of age or older who reside in the cities or towns serviced by said provider and a majority of the governing board to be appointed by the councils on aging of the cities or towns serviced by said provider. As a condition of such contract, such home care provider shall implement such plan within one hundred and eighty days of the signing of the contract.
If no home care provider who complies with the provision of his clause relating to the composition of the governing body is available to provide a home care service, the secretary may enter into a contract with a nonconforming home care provider until an organization with a complying governing body becomes available to provide a comparable service. If the secretary has entered into a contract with a nonconforming home care provider and a conforming provider becomes available, the contract shall remain in force for such period of time as the secretary deems necessary; provided, however, that the term of such contract shall not exceed one year.
Home care programs shall include, but not be limited to, case management, homemaker and chore services, transportation, protective services, and information and referral; provided, however, that the department may include additional services where feasible; and provided, further, that any council on aging may be a member of its designated area agency on aging without being required to join or make payment to a home care provider.
(d) to provide and act as a clearinghouse for information, data, and other materials relative to elderly persons;
(e) to initiate and carry out studies and analyses which will aid in solving local, regional, and statewide problems concerning elderly persons;
(f) to coordinate through advice and counsel those programs of other state agencies designed to assist in the solution of local, regional, and statewide problems concerning elderly persons;
(g) to advise and inform the governor on the affairs and problems of elderly persons in the commonwealth;
(h) to exercise the powers and discharge the duties assigned to him in the fields of health care, housing, nutrition, homemaker services, economic opportunity, local and regional planning, transportation, and education and preretirement programs;
(i) to further the cooperation of local, state, and federal and private agencies and institutions providing for services or having responsibility for elderly persons;
(j) to represent and act on behalf of the commonwealth in connection with federal grant programs applicable to programs for elderly persons in the functional areas described in this section;
(k) to seek, accept, and otherwise take advantage of all federal aid available to the department, and to assist other agencies of the commonwealth, local agencies, and community groups in taking advantage of all federal grants and subventions available for elderly persons;
(l) to render advice and assistance to communities and other groups in the preparation and submission of grant applications to state and federal agencies relative to programs for elderly persons;
(m) to review and coordinate those activities of agencies of the commonwealth and of any political subdivision of the commonwealth at the request of such subdivision, which affect the full and fair utilization of community resources for programs for elderly persons, and initiate programs that will help assure such utilization;
(n) to encourage the formation of councils on aging and to assist local communities in the development of said councils.
(o) to conduct yearly studies and evaluations pertaining to the quality of care and social services for nursing home patients and report such findings and recommendations to the general court.
(p) to establish a corps of elder volunteers in each planning and service area, as designated by the department pursuant to 42 USC Sec. 3025, the purpose of which shall be to provide visiting services to the residents of nursing homes within such area.
In order to assist in the discharge of his duties, the secretary may request from any agency of the commonwealth information pertinent to the affairs and problems of elderly persons.
Nothing in this section shall be construed to be a limitation of the other powers and duties assigned by law to the secretary.