Letter to the Editor: Caregiver shortage and care crisis is completely avoidable

Published 6:31 pm Tuesday, August 9, 2022

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Many are rightfully concerned about the plight of Minnesota’s long-term care system.

State funding and policies – which sets the wage level in our senior-care facilities, has not keeping up with the growing demand among seniors who need access care services. The funding allocated by the legislature doesn’t allow long-term care setting to pay the dedicated caregivers the wages they deserve.

We have shared our deep concerns about the growing funding issues in the state’s aging services sector that is jeopardizing access to care for Minnesota’s seniors. Put simply, it costs more to provide COVID-era care. Then add in mounting wage pressure and crushing regulations. The equation isn’t working and long-term care communities across the state are struggling.

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Frankly, state policymakers have disappointed us. They failed to invest in our caregivers, despite the state’s $10 billion budget surplus. Unfortunately, this didn’t get over the finish line of St. Paul negotiations at the State Capitol this past spring. Disagreement and division have put additional risk and stress on the overloaded long-term care network in Minnesota.

Our state’s senior care sector needs support from the lawmakers who are responsible for setting the rates for long-term care reimbursement. Our state’s caregivers deserve their support. And our state’s growing populations of seniors must have access to care, when and where they need it in all the communities they call home.

Let’s get back to work at the State Capitol and take care of unfinished business. The longer we wait for solutions, the more seniors will struggle to find access to care. Some settings have closed their doors completely, while others simply serve fewer people because they can’t the caregivers they need. We continue to lose caregivers to jobs that pay more with less stress, and we need lawmakers to make critical investments in the dedicated people who serve Minnesota’s seniors today so those who need care tomorrow will be able to find it.

Jennifer Benjamin, LNHA, SPHR, LALD

Campus Executive Director, The Homestead at Rochester