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Delaware urged to increase funding for long-term care

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(The Center Square) — A Delaware legislative panel is calling on the state to pump more money and resources to help buoy long-term and memory care facilities.

The Legislature’s Long-Term Care and Memory Care Task Force report recommends a series of reforms to the industry, including increased funding and Medicaid reimbursement, expanded oversight and accountability at all levels, better recruitment, retention and training, and improved services for facility residents.

The panel’s co-chairwoman, Rep. Kendra Johnson, D-Bear, said the review is the first in years looking at whether the facilities are “providing consistent, quality care to residents” and identified “several areas” that need improvement to better serve residents.

“We owe it to Delawareans – both residents of these facilities and their families – to fight to make these improvements and overhauls to make the industry function as it should,” she said in a statement. “These recommendations are a roadmap for us.”

Delaware’s overall population has aged significantly in recent decades, a trend that is only expected to continue in the foreseeable future, according to the report’s authors.

Between 2020 and 2050, the 85 and over population is expected to increase by 158.1% and the 80-84-year-old population by 86.3%, they noted.

“With an aging population that continues to grow in Delaware, it is critical that we do all we can to protect one of our most vulnerable sectors,” said state Rep. Ruth Briggs King, R-Georgetown, another member of the task force.

The panel made at least 18 recommendations, from requiring the state to review existing policies and update requirements and standards for long-term care facilities to increasing retention efforts and requiring the facilities to improve their internal policies and procedures.

Other recommended changes include:

Increase Medicaid reimbursement rates for long-term care facilities and consider adopting a regular and systematized procedure for reviewing reimbursement rates.

Increase oversight for temporary staff and temporary staffing agencies and expand state oversight of memory care services.

Implement robust and comprehensive recruitment and retention initiatives for healthcare workers in long-term care.

Investigate state oversight bodies’ practices regarding communication with residents and family members to promote greater transparency, understanding of relevant laws and procedures, and access to relevant resources.

State Sen. Spiros Mantzavinos, D-Elsmere, who co-chaired the task force, said he and other panel members are drafting legislation to implement some of the task force’s recommendations, which they expect to file soon.

“Now it’s our job to make sure that the General Assembly acts on these recommendations so the families who depend on these services can sleep at night knowing we are doing all we can to protect the health and welfare of their loved ones,” he said.

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