Category Archives: Aging Services

Next Free Webcast – Paying MN’s Long-Term Care Bill: A Study of Private- and Public-Pay Patterns – October 12 at noon

Earn 1 hr CEU, pre-approved for Social Workers by BOSW; self-submit other disciplines.
MGS is an approved Continuing Education Resource by the MN Board of Nursing.
(The CEU is free for MGS members; $15 for non-members.)

Presenters: Peter Spuit, MSW and Rachel Shands, MSW

Click here to register now!

In 2020-2021, Rachel Shands, MSW and Peter Spuit, MSW, working within the State of Minnesota’s Department of Human Services, conducted an Elderly Waiver Spenddown Study. The goal of the study is to increase the shared understanding of the circumstances and decisions of older Minnesotans eligible for enrollment in the Elderly Waiver program. A primary focus is on how these older adults make a range of decisions about paying for long term care supports with their own financial resources. The presenters have structured the session to explore the key findings and policy implications derived from the recent study.

Would you like more information? Click here to view the Elderly Waiver Spenddown Study


  1. Learn about the Department of Human Services Elderly Waiver Spenddown Study conducted in 2020-2021.
  2. Understand the goals, research activities, and key findings of the study.
  3. Explore the policy implications and system-change opportunities derived from the study.


Peter Spuit, MSW

Peter Spuit serves in the Aging and Adult Service Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services on the Home and Community Based Services team which oversees the Elderly Waiver, Alternative Care, and Essential Community Supports programs. Peter’s role on the team is to oversee fiscal policy, quality assurance activities, and research and evaluation projects. Peter holds a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Minnesota, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa.


Rachel Shands, MSW

Rachel Shands is the Home and Community Based Services (HCBS) Manager in the Aging and Adult Services Division of the MN Department of Human Services. Since 2016, she has overseen a team of professionals who implement the state’s publicly funded home and community-based services (HCBS) for older adults. Through these programs, low-income older adults have opportunities to remain living in their homes and communities with services and supports that improve their quality of life. Rachel’s work to support and enhance services for older adults has included service development, legislative coordination, and policy development.

Past Free Webcast – Scrambling to Meet the Need: Mental Health Resources for Older Adults – August 3rd, 2022

Earn 1 hr CEU, pre-approved for Social Workers by BOSW; self-submit other disciplines.
MGS is an approved Continuing Education Resource by the MN Board of Nursing.
(The CEU is free for MGS members; $15 for non-members.)

Presenter: Chris Westergaard, Touchstone Mental Health Services

Click here to register now!

Handout Scrambling to Meet the Need 8.3.22

This presentation will explore current challenges (and an emerging solution) to providing effective mental health care for older adults, including:

  1. Workforce shortages within care provider field;
  2. Mental health care affordability;
  3. Disparities in access to mental health care among disparate populations; and
  4. Continuing emphasis on the “traditional” cognitive needs of older adults.

Licensing, legislative elements, Medicare reimbursement and outdated systems for defining mental health for older adults fall within these challenges. Solutions to the issues of access, licensing and reimbursement will be presented as part of a working model using a gero-psychological approach to the symptoms of mental illness in older adults. An overview of the specific hurdles faced by the increasingly diverse population of older adults is included, with accompanying (if fledgling) solutions.


  • Outline gaps in mental health services accessible to older adults
  • Understand the systemic challenges and themes underlying capacity of older adult of mental health services
  • Define and discuss gero-psychology strategies in use to focus on unique mental health needs of the diverse population of older adults

Chris Westergaard, MSW, LICSW, CPPM

Chris works to provide behavioral health supports at Touchstone Mental Health Services; Minnesota’s first permanent supportive housing program focused on older adults. He has worked in the mental health field for twenty years, working with children, adults, and families.  His experience includes providing and managing long-term care, individual and group psychotherapy, and in-home supports and services.