Page 43 - BusinessWest April 28, 2021
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  Dr. Susan Bankoski Chunyk says people still put off seeking treatment for hearing loss due to outdated perceptions about hearing aids.
and it’s perceived to be, and is, a major problem,” she went on. “And if we do not alter the way we are paying, recruit- ing, supporting, and respecting those people, it will be infinitely worse. We’re going to need to restructure things,
pay people differently, and offer them different kinds of professional devel- opment and career ladders that will make those positions more attractive; otherwise, we have a self-perpetuating situation. It’s the classic axiom — the system produces exactly the kinds of results it was designed to produce. If we don’t change the system, you get what you’ve got.”
Another issue that will have to addressed regards the number of spe- cialists that will be needed to care for this larger generation of older resi- dents, said Brennan, referring to geri- atrics doctors, general nurse practitio- ners, social workers, pharmacists, and more.
them and making the kinds of systemic changes Brennan mentioned will be just some of the many challenges facing the healthcare system moving forward.
Several of the others involve the growing trend of people wanting to age in place — and especially in their own home.
And this brings her back to COVID and what has been learned during the pandemic.
“More care was moving toward the home, basi- cally as a result of general anxiety about facility care — about being in hospital, about being in a skilled nursing facility,” she explained. “Because of this crisis, we’ve seen more people want to get their care in the home.”
And this is a trend she expects will continue into the future as more people from this huge generation confront questions about the care they need and how and where they want it provided.
But questions arise from this supposition — many of them, in fact, including whether there will be enough providers to care for all those peo- ple who will want to stay in their homes, and also whether the payers are willing and able to adjust to a changing landscape of need and pay for ser- vices they currently don’t cover.
Again, Flahive-Dickson said the pandemic has provided an intriguing lens for looking at the problem — and the future as well.
“If COVID has done anything for us, it has pre- viewed what is to come,” she told BusinessWest. “The pandemic has shown us that this surge in home care is a glimpse of the future. And it has provided this glimpse not only to healthcare pro- fes-
sionals Boomers
and the Continued on page 48
 nan said, people will need more care from more people as they age and approach end of life — a team-based approach, if you will.
“We’re going to have to think about care a different way because it’s not all about the doc- tors and the nurses,” she explained. “People will need hands-on home care, they’ll need symptom management, they’ll need direct-care workers who are grossly underpaid and overworked, and who churn through the system, with tremendous turnover.
“We’re struggling to meet those needs now,
“As the number of older folks is increasing, the number of experts is not increasing, not one iota,” she told Business-
West. “And, in fact, in some fields, such as geriatric medicine, the number of certified geriatricians has actually probably declined somewhat because we’re not replacing people who are retiring with equal numbers of new grads.”
The Shape of Things to Come
Flahive-Dickson agreed, noting that among the Boomers now in or approaching retirement are large numbers of healthcare workers. Replacing
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