Mark Parkinson, the president and CEO of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL), recently joined the LTC Heroes podcast to discuss the work that he and his team are doing to improve the lives of seniors.

“We want to create great experiences and a great setting for our residents while they're alive,” he said. He shared with Experience Care’s Peter Murphy Lewis the innovative measures AHCA has taken to help make care more accessible. Parkinson also told how AHCA is advocating for fairer wages for long term care employees. You can watch the entire interview below:

One important step to fulfilling those goals is pushing for reasonable regulations. “We're advocating against negative regulatory proposals, like the idea of requiring 4.1 hours of direct care per resident, whether the money is provided or not,” he said. “At the same time, we're trying to help states so they can continue to receive Medicaid increases by maximizing provider recovery at the state level.”

Still, there is much to be done in terms of filling out long term care teams. That is why Parkinson embraced an innovative idea that came from AHCA’s director of clinical and regulatory services, Pamela Truscott. She proposed developing a temporary nursing aide program in which individuals could be trained in eight to twelve hours. “We put the program together under Pam's leadership, took it to CMS, they approved it, and put the training up on our website for free, even for non-members,” he said. “Over 300,000 people have taken the training and over 200,000 are working in buildings.”

Lastly, AHCA works hard to ensure that caregivers are compensated fairly. So when the CMS proposed a 2 percent payment cut, Parkinson and his team got to work. “We went to our members and told them that we need to pull together to fight this,” he said. “We submitted 6,920 unique comments and changed their minds.” The result? “They went from a 2 percent cut to starting this October with a 2.7 percent increase. And it’s just a beautiful example of what can happen when we all pull together and get our message out.” It is that sort of collaborative spirit that drives AHCA forward everyday as part of a mission to improve the lives of America’s older adults and those who care for them.

Cameron Zargar, Ph.D., is the director of content and editor-in-chief of the Experience Care website.