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  • Emily Trask

GPNYC on 45 Forward with Ron Roel-After the Pandemic: How Can We Improve Our Long-Term Care System?

Listen to Michelle Arnot and Carrie Leljedal on the 45 Forward podcast with Ron Roel.

Episode Description:

One of the tragic outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic was not only the number of deaths from COVID, but the number of deaths in the nation’s nursing homes—which, at one point accounted for more than a fifth of all deaths according to the federal government’s estimate.

And what made these deaths even more grievous was that many of these elderly people died in isolation, cut off from loved ones, their essential caregivers, who were prevented from visiting them in their darkest hour. In the wake of this tragedy, there have been many critics of the nursing home system—pointing out the lack of oversight, the need for regulatory reform, and the need for high staffing levels with higher pay for the facilities staff.

In today’s episode, we talk with Michell Arnot, the vice president of Gray Panthers NYC and Michelle and Carrie Leljedal, a Family Advocate with the Essential Caregiver’s Coalition in Illinois, who are co-chairing a dynamic, thought-provoking webinar series called Unity for Long-Term Care. Their aim?

To form an alliance of advocates dedicated to improving the quality of life in the nursing home space across the nation. It’s not an easy task, and there are many entities and constituencies, with different opinions, ideas and strategies about how to fix the system. Michelle and Carrie will describe several of these efforts, not only to address specific issues, but how we could fundamentally rethink the way we view and provide long-term care. What are some of the alternatives to our current models? What does good “patient-centered care” look like? What can individuals do to make a difference in changing our complicated patchwork system of long-term care? It’s easy to dwell on the negative history—and hard to agree on a cohesive path forward. But Carrie and Michelle are steadfast in their view: To transform long-term care over the long term, those who advocate for change may disagree on specific issues, but must agree to move forward together.

Guest Descriptions:

Michelle Arnot is Vice President of Gray Panthers NYC and Co-chair of the organization’s webinar series, “Unity for Long-Term Care.” A publishing professional now in the nonprofit field, Michelle has conducted community outreach and produced conferences, webinars and workshops for more than a dozen nonprofit organizations around the world. Past roles include president of the Kensington Chelsea Women’s Club, London; and vice president of the Japan America Women’s Club, Tokyo. Currently, Michelle sits on the board of the West Side Interagency Council on Aging and Voices 60+ with the Hospital for Special Surgery, Manhattan.

She received her college degree from Beloit College and pursued graduate studies at Columbia University.

Carrie Leljedal is the Illinois state representative for the Essential Caregiver’s Coalition and the spokesperson for Illinois Caregivers for Compromise. Carrie is passionate about her advocacy work locally and nationwide, fighting to prevent long-term care residents from suffering due to the effects of isolation during facility lockdowns. Her coalition was instrumental in the recent passage of Essential Support Person Act in Illinois and the introduction of the federal Essential Caregivers Act, now being considered in Congress.


Here are several resources mentioned during this podcast that offer valuable information to help improve long-term care facilities across the nation:

Caregivers for Compromise

Illinois Caregivers for Compromise

Gray PanthersNYC—Transformation Tuesday Webinar Series

Moving Forward Nursing Home Quality Coalition

Long Term Care Community Coalition

National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care


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