Amy York, EWA Executive Director
EWA just wrapped up the year-long “Together We Care” Campaign. What was campaign about?
The “Together We Care” campaign recognized the 10th anniversary of the Institute of Medicine (now National Academies) report Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce. This seminal report led to the establishment of EWA. We felt it was important to examine the progress since the report and share solutions to strengthen the current workforce. Each month, we focused on a different aspect of the workforce by collaborating with EWA members and other leaders on blogs, webinars, twitter chats, conference presentations, infographics and a hill briefing.
What did EWA learn during the campaign?
Each month, we collected information on a particular topic, highlighting a terrific training program or sharing a new model or best practice. For example – in June, we focused on dementia care training and the newly released Dementia Care Practice Recommendations. Our webinar discussion, highlighted ways to provide person-centered, coordinated care. Overall, we learned that there is a lot of tremendous work being done all over the country, but we need spread these best practices quickly to strength our workforce and improve the quality of care we all receive as we age.
What progress has occurred since the original report from NASEM was released 10 years ago?
Since its inception, EWA has been the leading voice advocating for the importance of the Title VII and Title VIII geriatrics health professions programs overseen by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Through our advocacy, we have ensured that Geriatrics Health Professions Programs funded under Title VII and VIII—programs like the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program—support the development of geriatrics competence across the healthcare professions workforce. Currently, there are 44 Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Programs (GWEP) in 29 states and HRSA recently revived the Geriatric Academic Career Award Program (GACA) . The GWEPs provide critical geriatrics training to primary care providers as well as specific education in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia care for families, caregivers, direct care workers and health professions students, faculty and providers. This innovative program also develops and works with existing community-based services to provide patients, families and their caregivers with the knowledge and skills needed to provide quality care and support.
The newly revived GACAs are a critical incentive for the development of geriatric professionals. EWA joined others in advocating for Fair Labor and Standard Act (FLSA) protection for direct care workers. We submitted comments to the Department of Labor on the importance of this workforce to the care of older Americans. We were delighted when the revised rule was implemented by the Department of Labor in 2015.
Over the last ten years, the landscape of care for older adults has changed. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) represents the most dramatic change on the policy landscape. The ACA focused on transforming payment and delivery of health care. The ACA also established the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) which supports a range of value-based payment demonstrations, bundled payments initiatives and care coordination models, with the goals of lowering healthcare costs and improving quality. Many of these efforts have created incentives for the delivery of person-centered, integrated, team-based primary care to chronically ill older adults and others living at home or in other community-based settings (for example, Accountable Care Organizations, Medical Home models, Independence at Home). The ACA also created the Personal and Home Care Assistant Aide State Training demonstration (PHCAST), which developed and tested a core set of competency-based training and career development efforts in six states.
Another important policy initiative, the RAISE Family Caregivers Act5, was signed into law in 2018. The new law establishes a panel to be launched this year by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to develop, maintain and update a coordinated, national strategy to recognize and support family caregivers.
Will EWA continue any of the activities that you developed during the campaign?
EWA has decided to continue to focus on a different topic area each month to share best practices and models. This will allow us to engage and partner with our members on critical issues. Please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to partner with us.
What policy recommendations would you make to strengthen and prepare the eldercare workforce in the next 10 years?
EWA continues to advance innovative policy solutions to prepare the health care workforce to care for us as we age. You can find our policy priorities here.