Cropped Hands Of Colleagues Analyzing Data On Digital Tablet At Office Desk

Data collection has not kept pace with the changing pace of the direct care workforce, complicating policymaker and employer efforts to address the challenges workers face, according to a new report from the Center for Advancing Racial Equity and Job Quality in Long-Term Care.

Steps toward improving the situation, according to the report, are the creation of a standard federal dataset of direct care workforce data, the coordination of a national data collection effort, the designation of federal funds for data collection, and mandated worker engagement from a variety of sources.

“Accurate, robust and accessible disaggregated national and regional workforce data (i.e., labor and job quality data broken down by worker demographics) does not exist, leaving policymakers, government officials and employers largely in the dark when trying to address the challenges facing direct care workers and improving care quality for consumers,” wrote report author Breanna Betts. 

Low-quality direct care jobs are largely financed by public dollars, the author noted. Therefore, she said, it is incumbent on agencies such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “to create a system that works with workers and communities to ensure necessary information on the essential workforce of caregivers is centralized and disaggregated for the first time ever.”

Workforce data equity matters, according to the report, to address the racism, sexism, ableism, ageism, xenophobia, colonialism and heteronormativity found in long-term care employment.

“By redesigning data systems with an eye to equity, the US could ensure for the first time that all workers and their experiences get counted to make equitable policy interventions that are based in the reality of workers’ lives and concretely improve working conditions,” Betts wrote.

National standards and national databases are needed to prevent “a spotty picture of the direct care workforce in the United States that seriously undermines efforts to pinpoint policies that would reduce the ‘workforce shortage’ — which is not only a labor shortage, but a shortage of quality direct care jobs that can recruit and retain caregivers,” according to the report.