Director's Corner: Building for Resiliency - Toward a New System of Long-Term Care

Photo credit: Kristin Chalmers

Rosalynn Carter noted, “There are only four kinds of people in this world: Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers. Those who will need caregivers.”

Despite the ubiquity of caregiving in all of our lives, we – as a country – do a lousy job of supporting caregiving in all of its forms. COVID-19 has made this lack of support vividly apparent, whether it is the loss of childcare and schooling, or the devastating impact of COVID-19 on residents and workers at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Across the board, these impacts have fallen most heavily on people of color.

The over 68,000 deaths of residents and workers at long-term care facilities are heartbreaking. The level of loss is staggering and certainly worsened by years of underfunding and neglect exacerbated, as The New York Times has reported, by the role of private equity firms that have been extracting profits from what are largely publicly funded services.

It is long past time for a rethink of how we pay for and deliver long-term care. This rethink should start from what consumers and caregivers need, and also examine how we build a workforce and care delivery system that values resiliency, not just efficiency. We know that many of you are working toward similar goals and we look forward to partnering to ensure a strong consumer and community voice in building the system of long-term services and supports for the future.

In this month’s HIH, we include several resources that examine the intersection of aging, race, and long-term services and supports. Center Research Director Marc Cohen examines the impact of the recession of 2008-2009 on older adults. His research finds a staggering rise in poverty rates, particularly among non-Hispanic Blacks, a worrying sign for what our current economic downturn may hold for older adults – as news reports are already starting to confirm. We also share a collection of articles by researchers at the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Boston on the impact of racism on older adults. I encourage you to read this news article on the impact of COVID-19 on older Black adults and, in case you missed it, our blog about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, particularly people of color. Finally, please join us for a discussion on how advocates can work to create the dignified, respectful, resilient system of long-term services and supports that puts people – consumers and caregivers – at the center. As always, please connect with us by email or on Twitter @ccehi with your thoughts and feedback.