America is Facing a Critical Caregiver Shortage
February 13, 2017 02:10 PM
The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a New York-based nonprofit that supports the home care industry, has created a new campaign to address and solve the chronic shortage of health care workers in the United States.
The “60 Caregiver Issues” campaign points out the country needs five million caregivers in the next seven years in order to keep pace with the growing demand from a rapidly aging society. The first issue briefing, The Future of Long-Term Care, lists eight signs the shortage in paid caregivers is getting worse. Those signs are:
The population of older adults in the U.S. continues to rapidly age, igniting demand for long-term services and supports.
A sizable growth in elders and people with disabilities means a growing demand for paid caregivers: home health aides, nursing assistants and personal care aides.
The primary labor pool for direct care workers isn’t keeping pace with national trends, raising concerns about the broad appeal of this occupation.
Direct care workers are leaving the occupation in droves.
The workforce shortage in paid caregivers might be affecting areas of the country differently.
Policymakers, long-term care providers and the general public are hampered by the lack of available data and research on the direct care workforce.
Home care providers and other long-term care entities cite the workforce shortage as a top concern for delivering quality care.
The shortage in workers extends beyond long-term care—and is garnering public attention.
The senior population in the United States will nearly double between now and 2050 – from 47.8 million to 88 million. Currently, about 52 percent of seniors require some form of long-term care. However, of the 8.4 million people receiving long-term services and supports, 37 percent are under the age of 65.
This gigantic population will require at least one million new jobs in direct care by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A problem is that while about 90 percent of home health workers are women, the pool of women between the ages of 25 to 64 will grow by only one percent by 2024, meaning the industry must attract a far more diverse workforce or a great many people in need of care will go without it.
A study of over 700 private home care agencies in 2015 found that 60 percent of the administrators cited caregiver shortage as one of the top three “threats to the future growth of (their) business” in that year. However, the industry is hobbled by a lack of information, since very few states or cities track data on the direct care workforce. Without data such as staffing and vacancy rates, as well as workforce turnover, it is difficult to know where in the country the caregiver shortages are particularly severe or why the shortage is happening in that area.
Clearly, this is an important topic about a critical problem facing the industry. That’s why NAHC is doing its part to address the caregiver shortage with the Home Care & Hospice Career Center, which helps agencies find hard-working and qualified employees and caregivers find the job where they can use their talents to improve the lives of countless patients.