Home
About
Agencies
Agency RSS
Agency
Listservs
Archives
Multimedia
Subscribe
Contact

Governor's Weekly Column: Addressing the Nursing Home Crisis





Mobridge. Madison. Tripp. Rapid City. Bryant. Rosholt. Huron. Watertown. The common thread between these communities? Nursing home closures. In all, 10 nursing home facilities around our state have closed their doors in recent years.  

 

As I’ve traveled throughout our state, this is a crisis I have heard about time and time again. Nursing home closures impact real people: our parents, our grandparents. We all want our loved ones to be happy and comfortable as they age, and shuttered nursing homes mean disconnection from community, separation from family, and a disruption of comfort. 

 

After many conversations with folks in grocery stores, at basketball games, and in my office with health care leaders, I knew something needed to be done. It was one of my top priorities that I laid out in my first budget address earlier this year. So I was thrilled to see the legislature affirm this and pass a bill to give nursing homes a 10 percent funding increase. This is a significant investment that will certainly provide a shot in the arm to keep nursing home services open.  

 

And while increased funding is a good start, we must also be proactive in confronting the root of the problem: an outdated system of care for our seniors. At the beginning of the year, I proposed a five-million-dollar, one-time investment toward seeking big-picture solutions to our challenges in this arena. I was grateful to work closely with the legislature over the past few months to see this through. This money will help us explore alternative, cost-effective options that can be developed for patients and their families like expanding the continuum of care, developing community living homes, and exploring other approaches that address the problems leading to closures. 

 

What’s more, this innovation funding will work to expand respite care services to family caregivers, either through brief, residential stays, or by staffing respite care programs in the home. Families are so often the best caregivers for our parents and for our grandparents, but everyone needs a little break once in a while. These services would provide that break. We also want the private sector to propose new approaches that address the pressures, including the workforce challenges and shortages, that are facing many of our community nursing facilities. This money will promote new thinking and new ideas with the goal being better senior care. 

 

While we work to make South Dakota a better place for our kids, we must also commit ourselves to the generations who have paved the way for us. I’m grateful for the partnership of the legislature, the input of South Dakotans, and the teamwork that carried this funding across the finish line. Our parents and grandparents deserve good care and innovative ideas in how we can best deliver it. I’m hopeful we’re headed in that direction.