Education, career opportunities, wage increases and reform measures are among the six strategies in a “long-range vision” released Thursday by LeadingAge to address workforce challenges in senior living and other parts of the long-term care industry.
In “Feeling Valued Because They Are Valued,” the organization detailed ideas to recruit and retain nursing assistants, personal care aides and home health aides to meet the needs of providers.
“The COVID pandemic shed new light on how valuable these professionals are but also made clear that America does not have the infrastructure for aging services that we need,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said. “This vision sets out a path toward the sustainable, reimagined workforce of professional caregivers that our nation needs to ensure better care for millions of older Americans.”
The six strategies:
- Expand the caregiver pipeline. Target recruitment efforts to nontraditional workers (such as high school students, displaced workers and older adults), and change immigration policies.
- Strengthen education and training. Identify competencies, develop training and establish public/private partnerships.
- Facilitate career advancement. Provide opportunities for people to assume advanced caregiving roles and join multidisciplinary teams.
- Increase compensation. Provide financial security, reduce turnover, boost worker productivity and enhance quality of care.
- Prepare universal workers. Provide flexibility to work across settings and across state boundaries to respond to caregiver shortages.
- Reform the long-term services and supports financing system. Explore social insurance approaches to financing LTSS to provide more consistent financing.
According to the report, the caregiver support ratio in the United States is expected to decline between 2016 and 2060, going from 31 caregivers for every older adult 85 and older to 12. The professional caregiving field is projected to add a total of 8.2 million jobs between 2018 and 2028. This number includes 1.3 million new caregiving jobs — a 28% increase — and 6.9 million job openings created by workers leaving the field.
“Our ability to fill these openings with qualified caregivers depends on our ability to professionalize the caregiver workforce,” according to the report.