The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the deep existing flaws in the long-term care system and elevated opportunities to better support healthcare workers, improve care, and reducing disparities.
Task forces on both a national and state scale recently released separate reports that bring to light issues of concern and potential solutions.
On a state level, and with a first-of-its-kind examination of workforce challenges, leaders from across the Massachusetts healthcare community participated in the Caring for the Caregiver Task Force, convened by the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association. Task force membership was representative of the wider healthcare continuum, and their report focuses on three themes:
- Mission & Leadership: Organizations must make the welfare of employees a central part of both their mission and identity. Leaders must serve as primary models of all the behaviors that help shape a positive work environment.
- Data: Organizations should utilize quantitative measures to assess their performance – and progress – in workforce-related areas.
- Shared Governance: Organizations should look to shared governance models for decision-making that affects staff.
The report includes detailed recommendations under four focus areas, including safety, engagement , well-being and workforce.
On a broader policy and geographic level, the Urban Institute convened some of the nation’s leading long-term care experts for a roundtable to explore reforms in how the United States cares for older adults in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The attendees of the roundtable identified domains on which recommended reforms could and should focus, which is the subject of their report.
- Redesigning Medicaid
- Creating a strong foundation for home- and community-based services (HCBS)
- Integrating medical care and LTSS
- Enhancing pay, benefits, and training for direct-care workers
- Focusing on the quality of life for frail older adults and younger people with severe disabilities, not just medical treatment or service delivery
- Reimagining nursing homes
- Supporting adults with disabilities along the full continuum of care
- Recognizing profound disparities in need for and access to high-quality care
- Improving data collection
The report concludes that “change must aim to improve the quality of life of frail of
older adults and younger people with severe disabilities. It must do so along the full continuum of care and recognize important disparities in access to high-quality care.”