It’s only the first week in January, but 2010 already has served up some exciting developments for the long-term care field.

One is the release of a health policy journal devoted exclusively to long-term care issues. The January issue of Health Affairs sheds light on important issues facing the field. A briefing held Tuesday in Washington helped to publicize the issue’s release.

Articles contained in the issue address workforce challenges, palliative care in nursing homes, how to finance long-term care (don’t we all want to know!) and the CLASS Act, which would provide working people an opportunity to pay into a trust that could pay them an average daily allowance of $75 a day if they become disabled. The program is part of House and Senate healthcare reform legislation.

The issue offers many interesting study findings and expert insights. One article talks about barriers to growing the long-term care workforce. Two others talk about the importance of expanding palliative care in nursing homes. Also, in the issue, Harvard Medical School experts talk about the need for public-private funding of nursing home care.

I would put this magazine issue at the top of any long-term care professional’s required reading list (right next to McKnight’s, of course).

The other piece of good news this week is the kick-off of the Long-Term Quality Commission, which will focus on research and best practices to achieve quality care for those needing long-term services and supports and their families. It intends to focus on the broad spectrum of long-term care, beyond institutional care.

Heavy hitters on the board of the commission include former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Mark McClellan and leaders of the many long-term care organizations. Other policy and healthcare experts on the commission include Mary Jane Koren of The Commonwealth Fund, Judy Feder of the Center for American Progress, Katie Maslow of the Alzheimer’s Association and Susan Reinhard of AARP.

Talk about a great start to the New Year!