EWA Applauds Efforts to Reauthorize Older Americans Act
September 20, 2012
New York, NY — The Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA) is pleased to see the inclusion of eldercare workforce provisions within a bill to reauthorize the Older Americans Act (S. 3562), introduced yesterday by Senator Bernie Sanders, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging, and fifteen other cosponsors.
OAA reauthorization offers an important opportunity to modernize the aging services network and its programs in order to build an eldercare workforce with the skills and training to meet the “whole person” needs of older adults for health care and long-term services and supports (LTSS).
The Alliance is especially pleased by the inclusion of efforts to address the shortage of workers specially trained to care for older adults. Provisions within the bill that call on cross-agency communication to identify and address workforce shortages are crucial to meeting the needs of an aging America. Furthermore, the bill codifies into law the eligibility of professionals trained in geriatrics and gerontology within the National Health Service Corps. This provision is based on language from the Caring for an Aging America (CAA), a bipartisan bill introduced by Senators Barbara Boxer, Susan Collins, Herb Kohl, and Bernie Sanders. The inclusion of the CAA within OAA reauthorization capitalizes on an essential opportunity to strengthen the eldercare workforce. Without a well-trained workforce, the delivery of vital services provided through the Older Americans Act will suffer.
EWA also supports efforts to invest in better and more meaningful supports for family caregivers and direct-care workers. EWA strongly supports the information and services provided by the National Family Caregiver Support Program, such as the individual counseling, caregiver training and respite which are so essential to family members and other informal caregivers. We support strengthening services for family and informal caregivers by authorizing and providing grants to states to conduct assessments of family or informal caregivers' own needs for services and supports. We support the testing of new innovative models of person and family-centered care that encourage well-coordinated, interdisciplinary team care, in which each team member works to the full extent of his or her knowledge, training, and skills. Finally, we support models which provide direct-care workers with additional training and utilize them in new roles to improve efficiency and quality of care for frail elders.
The positions of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance reflect a consensus of 75 percent or more of its members. These endorsements reflect the consensus of the Alliance and do not necessarily represent the position of individual Alliance member organizations.
* The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a project of The Advocacy Fund.