Image of masked clinician and patient talking in clinic visit
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LeadingAge’s Robyn Stone and PHI’s Robert Espinoza participate in a Mathematica panel on the direct care workforce.

The long-term care sector should use the coronavirus public health crisis as an opportunity to explore broader training opportunities that would allow staff members to work across multiple settings, including nursing homes. 

“I think we have some opportunities to think about how we deploy this workforce in a more universal way,” said Robyn Stone, Dr.PH, LeadingAge senior vice president for research and co-director of the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston. “It would also be a response to some of the shortages that employers are dealing with.”

Stone’s comments came Thursday during a panel discussion on strengthening the direct care workforce post-COVID. It was hosted by the research group Mathematica.

She stressed the need for states and providers to invest in geriatric development career programs that focus on training aides to provide care in multiple settings. 

“We should be looking, or at least exploring, training for universal workers who are actually going to be trained to the level so that they can work across [all long-term care] settings, which would allow them to have options for working in different settings,” Stone urged. 

Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy for the New York-based direct care workforce advocacy group PHI, echoed her comments. 

“As we emerge from this crisis, I think it will be essential that we continue to draw attention to who these workers are, why they’re so valuable, the challenges they face, and the solutions that we need to explore,” Espinoza said. “It’s been a learning experience but it’s one that we’ll continue as we think about the sector.” 

Check out our sister sites McKnight’s Senior Living and McKnight’s Home Care for additional coverage from the panel discussion.