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The LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation has announced $400,000 in grants to support the senior living and care workforce.

The funds will help some members “implement innovative solutions that support workforce recruitment and retention efforts in aging services,” Lori Meyer, chief operating officer at LeadingAge Minnesota, told the McKnight’s Business Daily on Monday. “The added benefit is that we can share the outcomes with the rest of the membership with the hope that successful programs can be replicated sector-wide to bolster Minnesota’s long-term care workforce.”

The grants come at a time when access to long-term care in Minnesota is in a “dangerous decline,” as evidenced by recent survey results reported previously by McKnight’s Senior Living. The survey revealed that older adults were turned away from assisted living communities and nursing homes 11,000 times in October due the state’s workforce crisis. The survey was conducted by the  Long-Term Care Imperative, a collaboration between the state’s two largest senior living and care provider associations — LeadingAge Minnesota, the state partner of the national LeadingAge organization and Argentum, and Care Providers of Minnesota, the state affiliate of the American Health Care Association / National Center for Assisted Living.

The LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation awarded grants to 24 varied projects out of 201 grant applications. That’s $3.5 million in grant applications that came in for the $400,000 that was available . Awardee staff populations ranged from a team as small as 11 members, with the average being about 11 workers, to three large multi-site organizations with more than 500 staff members. The foundation estimates that 4,000 workers will benefit from the money.

Selection criteria included evaluation by independent reviewers of:

  • The effect on an organization’s workforce shortage.
  • A demonstration of staff needs met through the project.
  • Evidence of the organization’s capacity to accomplish the proposed project.

Seventy percent of the funded projects will benefit assisted living settings. Some are stand-alone communities, and some are part of a continuum of care. 

According to Meyer, past grants were awarded by a private foundation, with the LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation acting as the intermediary. Due to the terms of the private foundation, recipients of those grants were limited to rural settings. 

The LeadingAge Minnesota Foundation funded this round of grants through a board-designated fund, so both rural and metropolitan settings were eligible.

Among the awards, one project will establish OnTrack certified nursing assistant training programs to eliminate traditional barriers and delays in CNA certification. The program will feature an on-demand curriculum, and new hire check-ins will track CNAs’ adjustment to their new workplaces.

Another project will provide emergency financial assistance to cover unexpected expenses causing personal hardship for staff members. And a third project will see a provider partner with a local shoe store to purchase high-quality, comfortable shoes and hire an orthotist to assist staff members in fitting shoes properly.

Workforce grant recipients:

  • Benedictine Living Community-Rochester
  • Breath of Life Adult Day Service
  • Cassia
  • Cerenity Senior Care-Humboldt
  • Cerenity Senior Care-Marian of Saint Paul
  • Chosen Valley Care Center
  • Compassionate Cottage
  • Covenant Living Golden Valley
  • Ebenezer Society-Ebenezer Ridges Care Center
  • Episcopal Homes Foundation
  • Frazee Care Center
  • Glesener’s Assisted Living
  • Good Shepherd Foundation
  • Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Harmony Care Center
  • Koda Living Community Foundation-Owatonna
  • Lilac Homes Assisted Living and Living Memory Care
  • Majestic Pines Senior Living
  • Pioneer Care-Pioneer Cottages
  • Presbyterian Homes and Services
  • Rakhma Home, Joy Home
  • Ridgeview Home Health Services
  • Warroad Senior Living Center
  • Willow Creek Senior Community.

“Workforce remains a top priority in all that we do with and on behalf of our members, and the work of our foundation is another way we can begin to address the workforce shortage in long-term care,” Meyer said.