Full Court Press Team Examines Creative Design, Regulations, Ethics for Senior Care

On October 4, the Senior Living Full Court Press Team met to discuss regulatory, workforce, and ethical considerations in redesigning long-term care. The meeting built on previous discussions about new models for long-term care, considerations of barriers facing the senior care workforce, and the urgent need to revitalize careers in skilled nursing and long-term care. 

The team viewed a presentation by Diana Anderson, MD, M.Arch, ACHA, who is known as a "dochitect" (a physician and an architect). As a "dochitect," Dr. Anderson combines educational and professional experience in both medicine and architecture, to truly link medical planning and working within the healthcare environment. Dr. Anderson has worked on hospital design projects within the United States, Canada, and Australia, specializing in medical planning of inpatient units, specifically environments for geriatric patients and intensive care units. During the presentation, Anderson shared insights on how physical design of a space affects the health of the people occupying it, especially for older people. She explained how simple factors like the color and reflectiveness of floor tiles can encourage or inhibit older patients from walking in hallways. Senior care can use design more extensively to improve quality of care, Dr. Anderson said. For example, senior villages with their own private grocery stores and businesses, can enable dementia patients to safely engage in autonomous activities.

After Dr. Anderson's presentation, Jewish Healthcare Foundation COO/Chief Program Officer Nancy D. Zionts, MBA introduced a panel of advocates and providers, who shared their reactions to Pennsylvania's newly proposed changes to nursing home regulations. Panelists included Ann Torregrossa, JD, Executive Director PA Health Funders Collaborative, Bobbie Gray, MPA, Vice President, Care Communities Presbyterian SeniorCare, Mary Anne Foley, RN, MSN, Chief Operating Officer, Jewish Association on Aging, and Mary "Molly" Langford, MSN, CRNP, Senior Director of Clinical Practice, Genesis Health Care.

The panel discussed strategies for current challenges of providing long-term care, as well as opportunities for future improvements, such as revitalizing the long-term care workforce. This is an urgent concern, considering the increasing lifespan of Americans and the lack of stable career paths for long-term care workers. The panel expressed concern that the new proposed state regulations call for higher staffing ratios by shifting the burden to providers to recruit, retain, and pay for that workforce, which is experiencing dire shortages. Long-term care providers are already challenged to fill existing positions, and many facilities are choosing to exit the market for financial and operational reasons. This reduces the number of quality options for families and seniors and increases the urgency around resolving the long-term care workforce issue.

The team then discussed Pennsylvania's plans and their potential impact more broadly, as well as next steps for advocacy on the state and national levels. The Senior Living Full Court Press will next meet in November. 

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