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Harrisburg, Pa. – Saying enough is enough, senior living advocates converged on the Pennsylvania capital today, calling on the Biden Administration and Congress to target COVID relief and workforce solutions to assisted living and memory care communities amid a financial and staffing shortage crisis in the state and across the country.

In a press conference at the State Capitol, stakeholders and policymakers offered two messages:

On a national scale, Argentum has prioritized workforce development in its advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., as part of the senior living association’s “Don’t Leave Us Behind…Again” campaign. This campaign, directed at the Biden Administration and selected lawmakers including Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, urges leaders to target COVID relief funding options to assisted living and personal care communities.

Maggie Elehwany, senior vice president of public affairs at Argentum, told the Pennsylvania conference that it is long past time for the Biden White House and Congress to help senior living caregivers who have protected the lives of residents—whose average age is 85—over the course of the long COVID pandemic.

“Six bills totaling some $6 trillion have passed through Congress and been signed by the president and not one has targeted senior living for relief. Time is running out to help these caregivers. We call on President Biden and Sen. Bob Casey here in Pennsylvania to act on their promises to bring relief to those most in need,” she said.

Elehwany also pointed to some $17 billion in Provider Relief Funds (PRF) that remain to be disbursed by the federal government. None of that money is prioritized for senior living caregivers who have been on the front lines in fighting the pandemic for nearly two years. As a result of COVID, senior living providers across the country have suffered deep financial losses even as they continue to provide the highest-quality care. The PRF can ensure the survival of assisted living and personal care facilities in Pennsylvania and across the nation.

Paired with the financial message, Argentum is asking for legislators to fund long-term care workforce development as part of its pending legislation, the Safeguarding Elderly Needs for Infrastructure and Occupational Resources (SENIOR) Act.

Argentum is already championing HAEP grants by leading a $6 million project funded by a four-year federal Closing the Skills Gap grant.

The HAEP seeks to expand apprenticeship pathways for positions like CNA’s, LPNs, RNs and rehab technicians, and create new apprenticeship programs for healthcare leadership positions such as nursing directors and executive directors.

Argentum plans to enroll and support more than 7,200 apprentices by February 2024, through our partners; additionally, HAEP aims to support 6,000 apprentices in completing their education and training programs. Successes include:

Margie Zelenak, executive director, PALA, said it is time for a new generation of worker to enter the long-term care profession, especially in leadership roles in senior living communities and pointed to apprenticeships as a great method to do so. “We are offering a career for people who want to move up the ladder in the assisted living and personal care world,” she said.

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