Good Shepherd Community
Are you aware in the month of October 2022, 11,000 older adults in Minnesota were turned away by long-term care providers because of staffing shortages? That number is staggering! The long-term care profession has been in crisis for many years, but in my 20 years of service to older adults, I have never seen things this dire. The pandemic has thrown us into a world well beyond crisis, and I struggle to find a word strong enough to represent our current situation.
Competent, compassionate and caring staff are leaving our profession in droves because, “we don’t make a livable wage and we can’t stand to see the older adults we should be serving, going without the best possible care.” Some nursing staff are feeling forced to leave the profession because they have had to choose between picking up their children at daycare and being mandated to work additional shifts to cover for staff who have called in. Our caregiving staff is beyond exhausted and has put in countless additional hours covering staffing shortages and simply can’t physically, emotionally and mentally do it anymore. LeadingAge Minnesota reports Minnesota is home to the most severe caregiver shortage in the nation. That fact is terrifying!
Other industries can pass on increasing cost burdens to their customers, we can’t. What most people don’t realize is the State sets nursing home rates and at the current funding levels, we can’t pay our caregivers the wages they deserve. People can work in fast-food and make better wages. What does that say about the value of a caregiver for our seniors? Caregiving should be an honored profession with wages to support that level of dedicated service.
In a year with such a great surplus last legislative session, it was so disheartening nothing was done to help long-term care providers when the money was available. With a continued surplus this year, older adults MUST be a priority this session! Minnesota seniors have built our communities and done their part to ensure the future WE are living today. We OWE it to older adults to care for them now in their time of greatest need.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried with families when I’ve had to tell them we can’t admit their loved one because we don’t have enough staff to add one more. The need is great. We MUST find a solution to reforming the Elderly Waiver (EW) payment system, the part of Medical Assistance that pays for Assisted Living and Memory Care. We’ve been talking about it for years and it’s time to act!
Good Shepherd Community currently serves more than 67 percent of our assisted living and memory care population on EW services. We can’t afford to do that anymore when we get paid at rates less than what it costs to care for them, in an economic climate where EVERYTHING costs more.
We are calling on the Minnesota Legislature to adequately fund long-term care and reform the Elderly Waiver program so we can serve Minnesota seniors who desperately need our help! If you have a loved one in long-term care or who may need it soon, please reach out to your legislators and ask for their help this session!