On Friday, January 27, HMS Healthcare Management Solutions Director of Home Care & Hospice Services Kim Skehan participated in a panel discussion The Direct Care Workforce: Meeting The Demand & Responding To The Needs of Connecticut Residents at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford. The discussion aimed to address Connecticut’s dramatically changing demographics, rapidly aging population and the state’s ongoing commitment to provide community-based services.
Skehan, who is also the facilitator of the Home Health Services Legislative Work Group, spoke about the confusion within the industry and the general public about the roles of caregivers in the community and the services they provide.
“People need to know they have choice,” said Skehan. Skehan said offering clarity on those roles empowers people to make the right decision for themselves and their loved ones, but also stressed the importance of a sufficient and well-trained workforce. It’s estimated Connecticut will need 9,000 new direct care workers over the next five years.
Dawn Lambert, Project Director for the Money Follows The Person Program (MFP) at the Department of Social Services (DSS) said Connecticut is looking at state statutes to identify those acts not in line with state values.
“We want to give people more choice, more control” said Lambert. “When we empower them, we reduce their dependency on government.”
Lambert said Connecticut’s rebalancing goals are currently at risk. MFP is intended to rebalance the long-term care system so individuals have the maximum independence and freedom of choice regarding where they live and receive services. The ultimate goal is to provide workforce initiatives to support consumer choice and quality while creating a channel for direct care workers.
“Quality choices are so important,” said Skehan. “There are challenges ahead, but working together, we can identify opportunities for change and develop a sufficient, well-trained workforce.”
The discussion lasted for approximately 90 minutes and was followed by a brief Q&A. Home Care: It’s Complicated, a press conference hosted by the Home Health Legislative Work Group (HHLWG) and Representatives Michelle Cook and Betsy Ritter immediately followed the event. Click here for a recap.
In addition to Skehan and Lambert, other panelists included Julie Gelgauda, Director of Care Management for the Agency on Aging of South Central Connecticut; Deb Migneault, Community Liaison of the Connecticut Commission on Aging; Gail Coppage, State Director of Workforce Development for Connecticut State Colleges; Sherry Ostrout, Director of Government Initiatives for Connecticut Community Care; Alice Pritchard, Executive Director for the Connecticut’s Women’s Educational & Legal Fund and Susan Raimondo, Senior Director of Advocacy & Programs and the National MS Society. Executive Director of the Connecticut Commission on Aging, Judy Evans Starr offered opening remarks and served as discussion intermediary.
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