“Ambient Despair”

I started Sparky’s Policy Pub back in May because I believed it would be a productive and enjoyable means of sharing information, thoughts, opinions and insights on public policy issues likely to impact providers of affordable housing, aging services and post-acute/long-term care. 

Four months and 27 posts later, rather than write about the what, the how and the wherefore of healthcare policy, I want to pause and focus on the why.  The only significance of my chosen timing is the recent availability of an interview on Terry Gross’ Fresh Air: Advocate Fights ‘Ambient Despair’ In Assisted Living.   In this program she interviews Mr. Martin Bayne, a long time consumer advocate of long-term care – and current resident of an assisted living facility.

In the early 90s Martin started a web site called, Mr. Long-Term Care.  Back then while the world wide web was still in its infancy Martin was years ahead of his time in recognizing the tremendous value the Internet would offer in sourcing, aggregating and organizing content.  He embraced this vision by not only providing – but producing, through both written and audio interviews – what was widely recognized as the definitive online knowledgebase on all matters relating to long-term care in the United States.

I met Martin the way many did – through being first attracted to the tremendous resource that was Mr. Long-Term Care.  It became an indispensable means of quickly accessing statistics, research, opinion – anything that existed or was being developed to help better understand the market, operational and financial characteristics of the long-term care delivery system.

Fortunately for me, my relationship with Martin went beyond just accessing his web site.  In 1998 we cofounded the National Long-Term Care Policy Institute as a reflection of our shared passion for believing there was more needed to be done in terms of taking an honest, objective and candid look at what was working – and what was not working – in our delivery system.

To compare my passion to Martin’s beyond that, however, would be a disservice to him and his life’s work.  I wanted to see change – Martin has effected change.  Some years on now, I still look fondly on the time I spent working with him.  And while we each in our own way continue to fight the good fight, as you listen to Terri Gross’ interview, you will understand why my deference is not humility but personal pride in not only having had the opportunity to learn from Martin – but being able to still consider him a friend.


Click on Mic to listen to interview . . .