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MSU receives funding to improve in-home health care in Michigan

Clare Luz (left) and Joan Ilardo (right)
Courtesy of MSU Today
Michigan State University
Clare Luz (left) and Joan Ilardo (right)

As the retirement-age population grows in Michigan, in-home care is increasingly in high demand. The state, however, is struggling to maintain a workforce that meets the need. 

Two researchers at the MSU College of Human Medicine are working to change that. They received grants from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. The Fund was set up in 2013 under state law. (Read more about the it here.) 

Clare Luz, an associate professor in the College, received a $500,000 grant to improve in-home caretaker training and create a certification program for the workforce.

Joan Ilardo, Director of Research Initiatives for the College, received more than $370,000 to improve engagement between families, patients, and healthcare providers in efforts to promote healthier lifestyles and better self-management strategies. 

Luz hopes that the caretaker training program will increase worker skill and marketability. The goal is to increase the amount of caregivers who want to stay in the profession long term and to eliminate a future worker gap.

"We're facing a huge shortage. There are employers all over the state who cannot find personal care workers, the turnover among this workforce is huge," says Luz. "We are anticipating that by 2020 we'll need about 196,000 direct care workers and the estimates on how far we're going to fall short range from 20,000 to 30,000." 

Ilardo is working to educate more patients about their condition at home and ways in which they can better manage it themselves. She believes this can limit how often they will need future medical help. 

"As we do the self-management training, people learn more about their conditions," Ilardo says. "If someone knows how to manage their diabetes well, they will probably not end up in the doctor's office as often, or even in the emergency room, and they'll have a better quality of life." 

Luz and Ilardo hope to eventually standardize these programs and expand them throughout the state and beyond. The state currently does not mandate any certification or training for in-home care. 

Mateus DeFaria is a Senior at the University of Michigan majoring in Political Science. Born and raised just outside of Los Angeles, he came to school in the midwest in efforts to expand his horizons and tackle new challenges far away from home (which may have at one time included learning how to do laundry).
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