FRANKLIN — Mike Cryans attended a Meet Your Representative event at Franklin VNA & Hospice, giving an overview of his role as a new member of the Executive Council.
Attendees at the Feb. 15 event included Michael Foss, chief and emergency management director of the Franklin Fire Department; Cheryl Barnes, director of nursing at Peabody Home and member of the National Association of Directors of Nursing Administration; Glen Badger, an eldercare advisor; and many Franklin VNA & Hospice staff members.
Cryans said each Councilor represents 20 percent of the population, and he represents the region extending from most northern town of Pittsburg to Claremont, Andover, Hill, Sanbornton, Tilton, Laconia, and Gilford, all the way across to Milton. The diverse district includes businesses from ski areas to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
A major topic of conversation was the need for a "living wage" for health care workers such as licensed nursing assistants.
Franklin VNA & Hospice Executive Director Tabitha Dowd advocated for better pay and benefits in order to attract people to caregiving jobs.
“It’s how can we strategically still be viable and sustainable in the future to provide these needed services to the community, but pay them a fair wage?" she said. "I think this is where the Executive Councilor comes in. As these bills are brought forward by the legislators and you sit down and appropriate these funds, this is something that is a need, not just in our area but the whole state of New Hampshire.”
Barnes said the state needs to act now to attract caregivers.
“One in two people at the age of 85 will have dementia; the other person will be their caregiver,” she said.
"It is clear that we need to work to attract many more workers to this industry to help care for this wave of seniors" — the Baby Boomers, she said.
All attending agreed that services to allow seniors to stay in their homes longer contribute to the quality of life for seniors, and bring substantial cost savings.