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MSU receives $25M to take lead on long-term health care needs of Michigan residents

left to right: LaLumia, Lugo, Luz in the MSU Audio Studios
Mariana Bittencourt de Almeida
left to right: LaLumia, Lugo, Luz in the MSU Audio Studios

Michigan State University has received a $25 million grant that will address the state’s critical shortage of direct care workers, or DCWs, by establishing a Direct Care Career Center that aims to increase pathways into the field and transform the public view to one that recognizes the workforce as a respected profession.

DCWs provide long-term support to individuals with disabilities and older adults. They assist with hands-on care and tasks needed to maintain as much independence as possible. Paid direct care assistance beyond what families can provide is often a necessity, but there is a dire shortage of people trained to do this kind of work. Employers are facing serious challenges in hiring and retaining staff. About 190,000 DCWs are currently serving the state’s residents; at least 36,000 more are needed.

The grant will be implemented by MSU’s IMPART Alliance, a center in the College of Osteopathic Medicine’s Department of Family and Community Medicine that’s committed to helping Michigan expand and support the direct care workforce through training, credentialing, career paths and advocacy. Serving as the convener and working with a statewide network of partners, the alliance will develop multiple initiatives designed to lead to more qualified direct care workers and improved recruitment and retention.

Clare Luz is executive director of IMPART Alliance. David LaLumia is executive director of the Area Agencies on Aging Association of Michigan. Jennifer Lugo is a direct care worker.

Conversation Highlights:

(1:08) – “Yes, there is a very, very critical shortage of direct care workers right now in Michigan and across the United States.”

(1:58) – What are the primary reasons for the shortage?

(3:18) – What will the “game changing” grant help you do?

(7:50) – What is the Direct Care Career Center?

(11:48) – What is the IMPART Alliance?

(14:14) – Clare introduces us to David and Jennifer

(15:11) – Jen speaks from the heart on her rewarding career and some of its challenges.

(16:37) – How do you see the grant benefitting you and your fellow direct care workers?

(19:25) – Are there facts about your career you’d like to reinforce and some myths you’d like to dispel?

(20:41) – Dave weighs in with his enthusiasm for the project.

(23:30) – Luz on progress made in the last few years.

(29:22) – Dave add his appreciation for Michigan’s leadership.

(30:33) – Jen on the Nursing Home Workforce Stabilization Council.

(33:55) – What would you say to others considering direct care work?

(36:18) – Next steps.

Listen to “MSU Today with Russ White” on the radio and through Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and wherever you get your shows.