Strengthening Partnerships: Community Colleges and LTC Businesses
Work to implement the “School of Aging Services Demonstration” continued this month with a meeting that brought the Community College working group together with representatives of several long-term care business organizations in Maryland. The meeting launched a dialogue that will help frame the initiative. Business leaders were quizzed by the working group as to the workforce problems they’re confronting and how they view community colleges in addressing them. Sam Albanese, Ingleside’s HR Vice President, characterized the worsening workforce environment as the “severe storm headed our way” and called for a new paradigm to meet the storm.
The dialogue underscored the need to find new ways and means to not only open the door to renewed partnerships that positively impact on the recruitment and retention of the workforce but also expand the availability of clinical sites, build on and expand certificate options, and stimulate new career ladders and apprenticeships. Both the working group and the evolving advisory committee view the initiative as one that will strengthen the community colleges capacity to meet the changing regional workforce demands for older adults.
Business Community discussants included:
- Salvatore (Sam) Albanese – Senior VP for Human Resources – Ingleside
- Jeff Kagan – CEO – Sterling Health Care
- Daren Cortese – President at Brinton Woods
- Dawn Seek- CEO and President – Maryland National Capital Home Care Association
- Michael Jacobs- VP for Government Services – Fundamental Services
Increasing Medicaid Rates and Passthrough for the Direct Services Workforce
The Collaborative’s Wages and Benefits Task Force under the leadership of David Rodwin (attorney with the Public Justice Center in Baltimore and the Collaborative’s Vice Chair) is considering the feasibility and timing to press for a legislative proposal that both increases Medicaid rates in Maryland and provides a passthrough to direct service workers. Attention is being given to legislation enacted or under review by other states such as the bill introduced this Spring in North Carolina, i.e., “An Act to Provide a Medicaid Rate Increase to be Used to Support the Direct Care Workforce”. Additional state initiatives are being assessed including that being considered in Massachusetts (American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) to strengthen home and community based services as well as those authorized in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Task Force will report make its recommendations on wage rate and passthrough changes to the Collaborative in September.
Quizzing Corporate Business on Caregiving Issues
With facilitation provided by the Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health, the Collaborative is exploring ways to bring the corporate business community to the table as a working partner. Given the impact of the pandemic with changing schedules and often inflexible work cultures, women in the workplace are finding they must choose between their jobs and providing caregiving services at home.
The need for caregiver support has become a core issue for businesses. Denise Giambalva, VP with the Midwest Business Group on Health points this out in an article “Companies Can’t Afford a Shecession”. Some MBGH member organizations are reporting that childcare, elder care and the care of a spouse or “significant other” have become some of the top challenges faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. And the issue cuts across industries. She expects more business leaders will be looking for solutions that better support those employees who are having to cope with caregiver demands.
At the Collaborative’s request, the Midwest Board of Directors was asked about the adequacy of caregiving benefits provided to employees. Member responses were divided as to whether new and/or supplemental benefits should be offered to ease the demand on the use of Family Leave. The issue remains an unresolved issue for the time being but is expected to remain on the Board’s agenda..
A similar dialogue concerning employee benefits is planned for this Fall with the Mid-Atlantic Business Group on Health.
Launching the New Workforce Innovation Grants Program
The Maryland Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning will soon announce the implementation of the newly enacted “Direct Workforce Innovation Program”. An informational webinar is planned by the Collaborative in September to highlight the program on its provisions, timeline and implementation.
With increased attention given to the growing importance of the frontline workforce, this new grants opportunity comes at an especially good time. The program will provide matching grants in the amount of $50,000 with the purpose to……”create and expand on successful recruitment and retention strategies that address the barriers to increasing the number of direct care worker”.
Innovation and new thinking will frame the initiatives from the drawing board to implementation. The Collaborative’s goals are well reflected with those set forth in the legislation. Special importance is placed on the training of direct care workers, collaboration with institutions of higher education and enabling advancement career pathway opportunities.
The Collaborative continues to work with the Department of Labor’s Division of Workforce Development and Adult Learning in advance of the program announcement.