Senior Center

Minnesota Needs More Senior Care Focus

By Daniel @ LivingSenior - July 8, 2013

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Minnesota legislators from both parties and chambers have recently gathered together to focus on the reasons why seniors and their caregivers should be the priority for funding throughout this year. The current senior care system is at a point where it needs a great amount of investment and reform in order to be effective. The investment would be translated into improved wages for workers, better staff training, and more care settings that would provide the standards of living that most people would prefer for themselves and their own parents. It has been four years since the payment rates associated with senior care have been increased. In that period of time, it’s also been four years since most caregivers have had any increase of their own wages. Most of them work more than one job in order to ensure that they can make ends meet for their families and the loved ones that they are caring for.

It is estimated that there are 1,600 unfilled full time equivalent caregivers within Minnesota nursing homes alone. There are many locations that have to turn away prospective residents because they just don’t have enough staff to help care for them. This is mainly due to the fact that there are much better pay rates and salaries for nurses that are employed at the local hospitals instead. Although Minnesota has been working towards many different reforms and keeping seniors independent, they haven’t been able to work towards improving the foundation of the senior care system itself, which is mainly found in the caregivers who take care of seniors on a regular basis when most people are unable to.

The Elderly Waiver program would be able to support three seniors in the community for the same cost of one residing in a nursing home. However, the program has experienced double digit cuts throughout the past five years and unless the legislature works together towards its benefit, it’s likely that the program is going to experience even more cuts this year. Worse yet, it’s expected that by 2020, Minnesota will have more seniors than school-aged children present within its population. As a result, unless something substantial is done now to repair and improve the senior care system, there’s a large chance that only an even greater number of seniors will be turned away from care facilities and may not have anywhere else to go in the future.

The core belief is that in order to improve the senior care system in Minnesota, the state will need to raise the wage of caregivers and strengthen many of the programs that exist, such as the Elderly Waiver program. These are programs that help seniors to stay at home and receive care, while providing support for caregivers and providers that are working towards improving the overall quality of their life. There are several considerations the state will need to take into account to fix the problems plaguing the senior living and senior care systems. There will be compromise and eventually a happy median between the two issues will become clear.