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Well-being of older adults, workforce prioritized in executive order

Senior man drinking water in bed after surgery, nurse helping to hold glass. Female caregiver taking care of chronically ill elderly patient lying in bed at home.
(Credit: Halfpoint Images / Getty Images)

The well-being of older adults and members of the direct care workforce has become a top priority in Maryland with the recent signing of an executive order meant to address challenges related to the state’s aging population. Senior living industry representatives say the effort has “tremendous” potential for operators in the state.

Last week. Gov. Wes Moore (D) signed an order establishing the Longevity Ready Maryland initiative, which directs the state Department of Aging to prioritize the well-being of older adults, people living with disabilities and their caregivers. 

Through the initiative, the state aims to build a longevity-ready and aging-friendly state by establishing new policies and programs, evaluating the efficacy of current services, identifying new support options for older adults and caregivers, and coordinating with public and private partners.

The initiative has a “tremendous” potential focus on the upside of aging and aging services, according to Maryland Center for Assisted Living President Joe DeMattos. 

“The potential for the executive order is an important first step in focusing on people across settings, consumers across settings, and in integrating those settings so Marylanders know where to receive care and to receive the right care, in the right place, at the right time, relative to their aging process,” DeMattos told McKnight’s Senior Living. 

He said he also has hopes that the initiative will address workforce challenges that have faced operators since before the pandemic. The experience, DeMattos said, taught him that only one healthcare workforce really exists. 

“The entire healthcare sector in Maryland is attempting to tap into a single healthcare workforce, which is insufficient to meet even our current needs,” he said. “So one of the hopes of this executive order is that we begin to put in place more earnestly new models for training and elevating the healthcare workforce.”

To that end, DeMattos said he hopes to see more use of peer-on-peer training in supervised educational environments that more closely resemble apprenticeship training programs for certified nursing assistants. In addition, he said he hopes to see a scaling up of existing models offering wraparound support for entry-level healthcare workers. 

LeadingAge Maryland has been involved in conversations about the multi-sector state Plan on Aging since the spring and is excited to see those efforts formalized in the Longevity Ready Maryland initiative, President and CEO Allison Roenigk Ciborowski told McKnight’s Senior Living. 

“We will continue to collaborate and advocate for all older Marylanders to ensure they have opportunities for aging well, and access to the services they need, when they need them, in the place they call home,” she said.

The plan

The Longevity Ready Maryland initiative adopts a whole-of-life perspective, aiming to develop a coordinated strategy across various state agencies, the private and philanthropic sectors, and other stakeholders to tackle real-life challenges throughout the lifespan. 

Helping state residents lead healthy, financially secure, socially connected and purposeful lives — regardless of socioeconomic status — is the goal of the plan, according to Maryland Department of Aging Secretary Carmel Roques.

“Integrating a longevity lens into every government department and agency, promoting coordinated responses, and helping the state shape how public services are planned and delivered, will help us prepare, serve and utilize our changing population,” Roques said in a statement.

The Department of Aging already has begun collaborating with other state agencies to develop a data tool and dashboard to report longevity goals, redesign the state’s long-term services and supports system, and examine affordable housing options for older adults. 

Over the next 18 months, the state expects to seek feedback to develop recommendations for the plan. A final plan is expected in 2025 and will be implemented over the next decade. A workgroup will include representatives from area agencies on aging, older adults, organized labor, older adult advocacy organizations, caregivers, state agencies and aging experts in healthcare, technology, academia, innovation and philanthropy. 

“If we are going to meet the 21st-century needs of this rapidly changing demographic, we must evaluate our programs, advocate for change, target resources and formulate data-driven policies with a whole-of-government approach,” Moore said in a release

Source: McKnights Seniorliving

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