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Local News

WI Fares Well in Long-Term Care Rankings, but Issues Remain

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Mike Moen

new report ranks Wisconsin 15th in the nation for long-term care services but advocates for the people who need care say more could be done.

The ranking is from AARP’s Long-Term Services and Supports Scorecard.

Jim Flaherty, communications director for AARP Wisconsin, agreed the state has done a better job in some areas, such as increasing the number of Aging and Disability Resource Centers. But he argued there is still not enough support to help older residents stay in their homes and receive care in a familiar setting.

He warned the state is going to have a hard time keeping up.

“Wisconsin is getting older as a state,” Flaherty pointed out. “The need for more home health care workers and facility-trained health care workers is only going to increase.”

The national report offers recommendations, including some suggested for years, such as providing more financial support to unpaid family caregivers. Officials contended policies like tax credits can help reduce cost burdens. States, counties and cities also are encouraged to develop their own innovative aging plans to help communities better manage long-term care needs.

While advocates prefer to help older residents remain in their homes, they emphasized nursing homes continue to grapple with staffing shortages. Flaherty stressed low wages are a big factor.

“Wisconsin could really benefit from some additional resources provided by the state to increase the pay for some of the workers in these facilities,” Flaherty contended. “The pay is below the level of a lot of other jobs that these folks can take.”

The report showed in Wisconsin, nursing home wages are more than $1.50 an hour lower than other entry-level jobs. Nationally, more than half of staff in nursing homes leave their jobs within a year. However, the turnover rate is better in Wisconsin.

Disclosure: AARP Wisconsin contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, Consumer Issues, Health Issues, and Senior Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

This article originally appeared in Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license