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older workers

Can Older American Workers Help Alleviate Workforce Needs

The April 2020 unemployment rate for workers 55 and older rose to 13.6 percent though many of these Americans want to work. COVID-19 restrictions and associated layoffs account for some unemployment increase, but so does the lack of employment opportunities among older Americans.

A coexisting challenge in the US is that senior living facility operators struggle to retain a reliable workforce to provide care to their senior residents. Other American industries can also benefit from increasing older workforce opportunities, such as manufacturing and the food service/hospitality industry, where they face labor shortages. Helping older Americans retool skills that address specific market labor shortages solves two problems with one group of workers.

Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Scott (R-SC) may simultaneously solve helping older workers find employment and the senior living industry’s challenge of finding and keeping competent workers. The chairman (Casey) and ranking member (Scott) of the Senate Special Committee on Aging have written a letter asking the US Department of Labor to prioritize the support of older workers. Additionally, the head of the National Council on Aging wants the Department of Labor (DOL) to establish an “Older Workers Bureau.”

The Senator’s letter asks Labor Secretary Martin Walsh to provide information about how his department is tracking trends in the sorts of jobs older workers perform and how the department can help older American workers navigate available opportunities. The letter further requests information about the DOL and the Biden administration’s collaboration using apprenticeship initiatives and other existing programs to train older workers with new skills to reenter the workforce. Finally, the Senators seek to understand partnerships between the DOL and the private sector to advance older American worker employment opportunities.

A recent Senate Aging Committee hearing entitled “A Changing Workforce: Supporting Older Workers Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond” calls for a bureau within the labor department to “look holistically at older worker issues across the federal government” and “identify and coordinate existing federal resources, identify and work to eliminate barriers to working longer, and disseminate promising employment and training practices” according to witness Ramsey Alwin. Alwin is president and CEO of the National Council on Aging (NCOA) and further discussed the need for federal resources to promote public-private partnerships.

The reintroduction of the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act on March 22, 2021, is a bipartisan bill seeking to strengthen age discrimination protection and make court justice easier for older workers to obtain. The NCOA also supports the Protect Older Job Applicants Act, which seeks to reinforce and expand the rights of older workers. Whether this legislation becomes law remains to be seen; however, there is a refocus on the benefits that hiring older workers bring, not only for the workers themselves but for the market sectors that employ them.

Many older Americans live healthy and productive lives well into their senior years, opting to stay employed as a matter of choice as well as those who do so out of necessity. Drawing from this pool of mature workers can address workers’ shortages and retention problems in senior living facilities and other healthcare sectors. The impetus for those Americans 55 or more who want to work in combination with public-private innovation and updated training could redress labor shortage issues across America.

We help older Americans with their estate planning and care-related planning needs. If you or a loved one would like to discuss your particular situation in a confidential setting, please give us a call.

Read more related articles at:

https://www.dol.gov/agencies/odep/program-areas/individuals/older-workers

https://www.govinfo.gov/app/details/BILLS-116hr8381ih

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

Pennsylvania Creating Uniform Background Check Process for Those Working with Older Adults

Covid, Nursing home

Visiting Grandma at the Nursing Home

In spots where visits have resumed, they’re much changed from those before the pandemic. Nursing homes must take steps to minimize the chance of further transmission of COVID-19. The virus has been found in about 11,600 long-term care facilities, causing more than 56,000 deaths, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

AARP’s recent article entitled “When Can Visitors Return to Nursing Homes?” explains that the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has provided benchmarks for state and local officials to use, in deciding when visitors can return and how to safeguard against new outbreaks of COVID-19 when they do. The CMS guidelines are broad and nonbinding, and there will be differences, from state to state and nursing home to nursing home, regarding when visits resume and how they are handled. Here are some details about the next steps toward reuniting with family members in long-term care.

When will visits resume? As of mid-July, 30 states permitted nursing homes to proceed with outdoor visits with strict rules for distancing, monitoring and hygiene. The CMS guidelines suggest that nursing homes continue prohibiting any visitation, until they have gone at least 28 days without a new COVID-19 case originating on-site (as opposed to a facility admitting a coronavirus patient from a hospital). CMS says that these facilities should also meet several additional benchmarks, which include:

  • a decline in cases in the surrounding community
  • the ability to provide all residents with a baseline COVID-19 test and weekly tests for staff
  • enough supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning and disinfecting products; and
  • no staff shortages.

Where visits are permitted, it should be only by appointment and in specified hours. In some states, only one or two people can visit a particular resident at a time. Even those states allowing indoor visits are suggesting that families meet loved ones outdoors. Research has shown that the virus spreads less in open air.

Health checks on visitors. The federal guidelines call for everyone entering a facility to undergo 100% screening. However, the CMS recommendations don’t address testing visitors for COVID-19.

Masks. The federal guidelines say visitors should be required to “wear a cloth face covering or face mask for the duration of their visit,” and states that allow visitation are doing so. The guidelines also ask nursing homes to make certain that visitors practice hand hygiene. However, it doesn’t say whether facilities should provide masks or sanitizer.

Social distancing. The CMS guidelines call on nursing homes that allow visitors to ensure social distancing, but they don’t provide details. States that have permitted visits, state that facilities enforce the 6-foot rule.

Virtual visits. Another option is to make some visits virtual. Videoconferencing and chat platforms have become lifelines for residents and families during the pandemic. Continued use after the lockdowns can minimize opportunities for illness to spread.

Reference: AARP (July 22, 2020) “When Can Visitors Return to Nursing Homes?”

Read more related articles at:

States Allow In-Person Nursing Home Visits As Families Charge Residents Die ‘Of Broken Hearts’

When will it be safe to visit your mom in a nursing home after coronavirus lockdowns?

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

Staying Connected to Family Members in a Nursing Home When Visits are Banned

Click here to check out our Master Class!

covid 19 long term care

Does Long-Term Care Impact COVID-19 Infection Rates?

Does Long-Term Care Impact COVID-19 Infection Rates?

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care (NIC) say that research supports the finding that keeping older Americans in apartments of their own may be saving many of them from COVID-19. That’s a summary of results from a survey of more than 100 senior housing and care operators.

Think Advisor’s recent article entitled “LTC Type Has Big Effect on COVID-19 Infection Rates: Provider Survey” explains that some participants provide more than one type of long-term care (LTC) services.

The sample includes 56 assisted living facility managers and 29 nursing home managers, as well as providers of some other types of services.

The assisted living facility managers said that they’d tested 22% of the residents as of May 31, and only 1.5% had confirmed positive, or suspected positive, COVID-19 tests.

The nursing home managers tested 34% of their residents.

Roughly 6.7% of the residents tested had confirmed or suspected positive coronavirus tests.

Analysts at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity believe that, as of June 19, approximately 43% of the people who’ve died from COVID-19 in the U.S. have been in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

Many seniors with private long-term care insurance (LTCi) policies, short-term care insurance policies, or life insurance policies, or annuities that provide LTC benefits attempt to use the policy benefits to stay at home as long as possible, or to live in the least restrictive possible LTC setting.

The NIC survey results support the finding that access to private LTCi and LTC benefits may have protected some insureds from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Reference: Think Advisor (June 29, 2020) “LTC Type Has Big Effect on COVID-19 Infection Rates: Provider Survey”

Read more related articles at:

COVID-19’s Impact on Long-Term Care

Epidemiology of Covid-19 in a Long-Term Care Facility in King County, Washington

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Will Long-term Care Be Priced after the Pandemic?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

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