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Industry spotlight: Demand for long-term care takers on the rise

Posted by Earl Laing | Thursday, June 02, 2016

A wave of 70 million aging Baby Boomers is about to sweep the long-term care industry into a scene of total chaos. The first of this generation reached the traditional retirement age of 65 three years ago, and according to The Center for American Progress, we can expect about 8,000 others to join them every day for the next 18 years. Family Caregiver Alliance further broke down this scenario, providing statistics that showed how only one in four people over the age of 45 are financially prepared for the cost of long-term service. 

Problems in the industry

We find that the assisted living industry faces two problems: lack of personnel and issues with funding.

The aforementioned statistics show the dire need for long-term care workers this country will need in the coming years. Health Affairs Journal recently published a University of California San Francisco study that found the industry would need at least 2.5 million more workers to enter this field before 2030 in order to meet the crushing demand. Author of this study and Professor at UCSF, Joanne Spetz , PhD, shared the shocking research.

"Even if 20 percent of elderly patients move out of nursing homes into home health care, which would be huge change, the projected increase in demand for long-term care workers would only drop from 79 percent to 74 percent," Spetz emphasized. 

One of the biggest challenges the industry faces is with the workers themselves. Forbes Magazine recently reported the high turnover rate that professional health workers caring for the elderly experience, due to their low annual incomes. Some were reported making as little as $13,000. This figure alone is enough to dissuade interest from future talent. 

What needs to be addressed for progress?

Earlier this year the president held the White House Conference on Aging in order to address this problem. Senior Research Analyst at the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging spoke to Forbes magazine on the present practice the government has in place. 

"The current system is not going to work for the Baby Boomers when they really become old enough to need intense long-term care—help with activities of daily living. Most people don't have long-term care insurance. They think Medicare is going to pay for a nursing home or long-term home health services, and that is not true. So there's a lot of education and more thinking at the policy level that needs to happen," Rose told the publication. 

The outcome of the gathering set out to improve care-giving infrastructure in America and put a spotlight on the low income of professional healthcare workers. Following the conference, the White House released new initiatives to aid seniors that included a rule that would update assisted living facility management through proper quality and safety requirements.

Advocates are pushing policymakers and educators to shed more light on this growing situation. They are urging for more funding, education, recruitment and training of long-term care workers to help facilitate better senior living operations