The state of health of the individual receiving care is connected to the forms of help and care provided by caregivers. Yet despite this analogy, Federal employment statistics indicate that long-term care workforce concerns remain at a ‘crisis’ level.
As per American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living statistics from the January Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Situation data, a 6.7% drop in the assisted living workforce indicates a loss of 31,200 caregivers, from 463,100 workers in February 2020 to 431,900 in January 2022.
Thus, to provide better care for millions of older Americans, the United States needs a roadmap to a sustainable, reinvented workforce of professional caregivers.
To this end, today’s episode of This Is Getting Old features Part 8: Long-Term Care Workforce and Caregiving of the 10-part AARP/ Age-Friendly Social Innovation Challenge.
Watch the full episode or listen to the podcast to learn more about valuable programs and innovative solutions specifically designed for older adults and healthcare providers.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️Partake Into Leoña And The Long-Term Care Workforce’s Case Scenario
The case study for Leoña:
Leoña was 58 years old, came to D.C. four years ago from Nigeria, and worked as a home health aide. She had been a hospital nurse in her home country, skilled and experienced, but she didn’t feel seen by her bosses. She felt a real connection to her patients but found the work very hard, and she had difficulty with this kind of work. She needed to find a way to care for herself and her family while still being up for the challenge of helping her clients.
✔️Long-term Care Workforce – Problem Statement
Leoña is burned out and will leave the field if we don’t start listening to her and paying her more than an hourly wage. Working in a flawed long-term care system, she lacks a way to be heard, valued, and advance in her career.
✔️Innovative Solutions— Leoña As An Essential Worker
Given the political moment, the time is right to call for systemic change and create a better individual situation for Leoña. This includes:
- becoming a salaried employee
- receiving local recognition
- securing employer-employee communication,
- succession planning around important work that she was doing
✔️More Ways To Help Leoña
The team passionately asserts that caregiver Leona should be recognized as an essential worker—she is like a firefighter. There were different levels of recognition that caregivers should have, and they should have people on the team who had experience with offering rewards and awards to people in their localities.
✔️ Giving Voice To Our Unheard Caregivers
There was also the recognition caregivers like Leoña do not feel heard. Leoña and caregivers should be able to tell their stories and set goals that will place them on a career ladder. We wanted her and people like her to be able to identify these challenges and begin to work with their employers to overcome challenges.
You can also check out Episode 69 with Dr. Marc Cohen, where we discuss the basics of how long-term care is paid for now – and talk about future trends for the long-term care insurance industry.
You may also have another idea for a solution – or know of a program that would help older adults and their families facing similar challenges. Please add your comments below.
We’d love to hear from you!
If you have questions, comments, or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.