Caregiver talks to patient on couch at home

Long-term care advocacy organization LeadingAge laid out a comprehensive Blueprint for a Better Aging Infrastructure Thursday, one day after President Biden announced his $400 billion-dollar plan to support the care economy.

“$400 billion is an incredible and ambitious start, and we offer our blueprint to ensure that services are funded across the continuum and that the whole continuum’s infrastructure is thought of,” said Ruth Katz, LeadingAge Senior Vice President of Public Policy/Advocacy, during a virtual press conference.

The $2 trillion The American Jobs Plan calls for substantial investment in the care economy by creating new and better caregiving jobs and investing in home-and-community-based services. The blueprint LeadingAge unveiled included a laundry list of ideas on how that should be accomplished. The list included paying a living wage and funding worker training programs, expanding integrated care models, such as Programs of All-Inclusive Care (PACE), investing $2.5 billion for affordable housing, improving aging nursing homes and establishing policies to finance long-term care.

LeadingAge and other providers said training workers to care for an aging population is perhaps most critical. Visiting Nurse Health System, which cares for more than 6,000 in-home patients in Atlanta, had to turn away 500 prospective patients over five months last year because it didn’t have enough staff.

“Those individuals were not being served at home. That is the lowest cost setting and probably equally important, that is where folks want to be,” Visiting Nurse Health System CEO Dorothy Davis said.

In Southern California, a dearth of affordable senior housing is as dire as the shortage of care workers, according to Jasmine Borrego, president of TELACU Residential Management. Borrego said some seniors living on Social Security are spending up to 80% of their monthly income on housing. “Many end up living in their cars or on the streets,” said Borrego.

LeadingAge hopes to work with the Biden administration and Congress over the next several months to get the American Jobs Plan enacted. Katz said with 52 million Americans now over age 65, the need to modernize the nation’s aging services system is urgent. “We can’t kick this can down the road much longer,” said Katz.

This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living