An effective job creation program must address the increasing need for support and services for the growing older adult population, according to two new issue briefs released by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA), a coalition of 28 national organizations committed to person-centered team care for older adults. Citing the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the briefs note that the health care labor market is expected to generate more than 3.2 million new jobs by 2018, largely due to the rapid growth in the elderly population.
As Congress and the Administration consider options to reduce the deficit while expanding jobs, the Alliance is calling for investments in Title VII and VIII programs, as well as training opportunities, and quality jobs for all members of the interdisciplinary team that is needed to care for older adults.
“We know it takes a team, including family caregivers and direct care workers, to care for older adults," said Alliance co-convener Nancy Lundebjerg. "Drawing people into the field of eldercare will directly impact the jobs crisis given the in growing need for a strong workforce to care for older adults. At the same time, we could strengthen support to family and informal caregivers who are juggling family caregiving responsibilities with full-time jobs. As a family caregiver, I know the importance of having well-coordinated care.” The Alliance cites the July 2011 AARP Public Policy Institute report, “Valuing the Invaluable: 2011 Update,” that estimated that $33.6 billion per year is lost from U.S. businesses whose employees are full-time caregivers for their family members. The brief argues that supporting our economy starts with supporting our families.
Despite the growing need for well-coordinated quality care, there is currently a shortage of healthcare professional and direct-care workers with training in the unique needs of older adults. "The direct-care workforce alone will require more than a million new employees to provide critical care to people with long-term care needs. These positions should include comprehensive training, and offer livable wages," said Alliance co-convener Steven Dawson.
In addition to being the primary source of funding for direct-care occupations, cuts to Medicaid, the brief states, would do further harm to the already beleaguered workforce, as nearly 20 percent currently rely on Medicaid or other public insurance at some point during the year to provide health coverage for themselves or for their families. “The impact of Congressional proposals to cut Medicaid would be equally devastating to older adults, health care jobs, and essential health care services,” said Dawson.
Calling for the strengthening of caregiving occupations, the Alliance argues that this sector is an important engine for economic growth in the United States.
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is comprised of 28 national organizations united in their commitment to address the eldercare workforce shortage in order to ensure that older adults receive quality care in the settings of their choice.
The positions of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance reflect a consensus of 75 percent or more of its members. These statements reflect the consensus of the Alliance and do not necessarily represent the position of individual Alliance member organizations.
The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a project of The Advocacy Fund.
Thanks to Rachel Feldman (Shiffrin), Project/Media Coordinator, for the information above. Her contact information is (202) 414-8069 (p), RFeldman@eldercareworkforce.org and Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/eldercarealliance