The Cedars Hosts Symposium on Aging, Workforce, Creative Solutions

The Cedars, one of Maine’s most comprehensive senior living communities, recently hosted a panel of national experts at the symposium, A Silver Lining for an Aging State: A Bold Approach to Boost Maine’s Economy. Presenters examined the critical issues facing the State of Maine as our population rapidly ages and workforce steadily declines.

They each offered insights into workforce and labor issues at the local, state and national level, shared innovative partnerships to benefit the people and the economy of Maine, and introduced creative solutions through a powerful new model of senior care that will transform how we live the later stages of our lives.

The conversation was active and passionate throughout the room. The audience included members of the healthcare community, educational partners, local business representatives, policy analysts and more. Panelists and some key points include:

John Dorrer, Workforce Development Consultant and former Acting Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor shared some of the staggering statistics around the workforce demographics. The number of American’s 65 and older continues to increase, expecting to double by 2060, while the number of 20-34-year-olds is expected to decrease by 15%. Maine’s future workforce is declining drastically as the number of openings grows, particularly in health care positions.

Carol Kim, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Innovation and Partnerships for the University of Maine system shared the exciting formation of the University of Maine System Aging Initiative, across all of the UMaine campuses. Dr. Kim shared some of the successes of the Virtual Environment and Multi-Modal Interaction Lab, including special equipment designed to promote exercise and improve overall quality of life. She also discussed multi-generational classrooms, aging forums and many community-based testing labs, including one at The Cedars.

Steve Shields, CEO of Action Pact, a unique culture change company shared details of the Household Model which transforms long-term care through the person-centered approach. In this innovative model, long-term and assisted living homes adopt an approach that shapes the physical environment, organizational structure, and interpersonal relationships in ways that create an atmosphere of genuine home, while providing elders with clear opportunities to direct their daily choices and pleasures. Steve explained the various aspects of home that we take for granted, which have been all by eliminated in traditional long term care, such as the front door and door bell, signifying privacy and control over who enters your environment.

Kathryn Callnan, President and CEO of The Cedars then shared the transition to the Household Model at The Cedars, and the accompanying learning community which puts the organization in the active role of educating and training the workforce, while creating a partnership to support those efforts. Kathy emphasized that she looks forward to sharing The Cedars ideas, experiences and successes so that households of this type can exist throughout Maine, New England and beyond.

Moderator, Dr. Elise Bolda, PhD of the Muskie School of Public Service took questions which spanned inquiries into the details of the Household Model, issues of access to care, and further clarification on the workforce demographics. The room was filled with excitement over the creative approaches being taken by The Cedars and community partners. The Cedars looks forward to continuing this very important conversation with future forums on the topic of aging in Maine.