In the opening session of our “Workforce” series, Robyn Stone, Senior Vice President for Research at LeadingAge provides an overview of the demographics, trends, and challenges of the workforce in Elder care. Robyn begins by urging listeners that as providers, we must invest in our workforce to produce the high quality of care we are promising to Elders and families. Our sector will be the center of many jobs in the future and therefore, investing in our workforce is a key component to overall organizational success.
Given the broad and multidisciplinary nature of our field, our workforce meets at the intersection of the medical, social, and environmental sectors. While this creates a dynamic work environment, it also creates challenges when recruiting and retaining quality clinical, administrative, and management positions. Specifically, Robyn urges the importance of frontline professionals who deliver 60-80% of care and are the “eyes and ears” of our communities. Frontline professionals are critical to building meaningful relationships with Elders and families and are essential to the success of an organization when cultivating an Elder-centered culture.
Robyn highlights long-term trends and the importance of building a competent workforce to meet the changing demographic. A rise in care needs, particularly in the 85+ population coupled with the pending workforce shortage of frontline professionals has created an emerging gap in care services. Additional trends include more ethnically and racially diverse older adults and an increase in highly educated older adults with greater access to technology and health literature. Lastly, Robyn discusses economic disparities between cohort groups and the growing group of older adults that will not have the resources to access services they may need in the future.
What are the challenges to workforce development? Robyn discusses that across all jobs and occupations, our sector is continually undervalued when compared to peers in other healthcare settings. She suspects ageism is the catalyst for a lack of attention and investment in public policy, education, and reimbursement rates to support a quality workforce. “We need to have policies that actually incentivize our service systems to be investing and supporting a quality workplace.” At the organizational level, growth in quality supervisors, in-service trainings, career mobility, and competitive compensation and benefits are critical components to building and maintaining a strong workforce.
In closing, Robyn shares public policy, education, and workplace solutions to support the workforce of the future. Specifically, she advocates for tying Medicare & Medicaid reimbursement directly to workforce development, developing quality clinical placements to attract students to our field, and creating innovative career ladders that support organizational retention.
To listen to the webinar, please visit: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3609958745640052481