Rural Long Term Care Health Workforce Workshop (2000)

Denny DeGross, MA
Beth Landon, MBA, MHA

A one-day workshop to address rural long-term care workforce issues was held on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus on May 19, 2000. Approximately 70 people attended, representing rural communities, Native communities, and Native organizations from all over the state. The Alaska Center for Rural Health (ACRH) organized and facilitated the event with funding and extensive collaboration from the Department of Administration’s Division of Senior Services, through a grant from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority.

In preparation for the event, ACRH implemented an informal, nonrandom survey. It provided a prioritization of key barriers to recruiting and retaining a quality long-term care workforce. Results were used in agenda development.

Most of the workshop focused on panels and roundtable discussions. For the panel sessions, panelists shared their personal and professional experiences in the recruitment, training and retention of staff. The most frequently mentioned barriers included low pay, lack of benefits, lack of support, high training costs, and gaps in service coverage during the summer months. Key solutions included school to work programs and improved support for existing staff.

Many participants expressed gratitude for the opportunity to congregate, discuss challenges, learn about resources, and brainstorm solutions. Participants heartily advocated for additional workshops or similar convening opportunities as this industry evolves and takes shape in Alaska.