The shortage of health care workers able to assist an aging population has been well documented. The problem stems from a surging increase in older adults, low-pay for workers in the field, and high turnover rates. The problem has become so pronounced in Japan that businesses are trying to cash in on the worker shortage by developing robots that will provide care and companionship.
The United States has not reached that level of need yet, and if a newly formed alliance of 25 leading organizations in the aging field have anything to do about it, we won’t need robots to provide care. The Eldercare Workforce Alliance was formed this month to address the shortage of health care providers and caregivers able to meet the needs of older adults. The alliance intends to accomplish this goal through increased workforce capacity, improved worker competencies, and better coordination of care.
The Institute of Medicine report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, indicates that by 2030, the number of Americans aged 65 and older will double to 77 million. Combine this surge in senior population with an anticipated further decline in available workers, and the situation becomes critical. This report prompted the formation of this alliance. Their first press release states:
“Eldercare is projected to be the fastest-growing employment sector in the healthcare industry, and strengthening these caregiving fields is essential to quality of care for older adults in America and may also drive long-term employment and economic growth,” said Alice H. Hedt, who was named EWA Project Director during the Alliance’s D.C. meeting.
They outline their immediate proposals as follows:
- Strengthen the direct-care workforce through better training, supervision and improved compensation;
- Address clinician and faculty shortages, through incentives such as loan forgiveness, increased public funding for training, and better compensation;
- Ensure a competent workforce by encouraging agencies and organizations that certify and regulate the eldercare workforce to require demonstrated and continued competence; and
- Redesign healthcare delivery by adopting cost-effective care coordination models.
Members of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance include the following:
- Alzheimer’s Association
- American Academy of Nursing
- American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
- American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
- American Geriatrics Society
- American Medical Association
- American Medical Directors Association
- American Nurses Association
- American Psychological Association
- American Society of Consultant Pharmacists
- American Society on Aging
- Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations
- Council on Social Work Education
- Direct Care Alliance
- Family Caregiver Alliance
- Gerontological Society of America
- National Alliance for Caregiving
- National Council on Aging
- National Hispanic Council on Aging
- NCCNHR – The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-term Care
- NCB Capital Impact/THE GREEN HOUSEÂ® Project
- New York Academy of Medicine/Social Work Leadership Institute
- Visiting Nurse Associations of America
I wish them the best in their efforts. The work will be challenging – and needed.