Of particular concern is the strengthening of the home care workforce, since most Americans want to age in place, with care services provided in their homes and communities. Unless we take action, baby boomers will find themselves without this option when they can no longer care for themselves.
Fortunately, the Commission on Long-Term Care’s majority and minority reports included a number of recommendations that Congress should get behind to build a 21st-century, direct-care workforce: better training and opportunities for career advancement; rate setting policies that guarantee wages sufficient to attract committed workers and reduce turnover; integration of direct-care workers into care teams; and improved data collection to inform policy decisions.
Every day, 10,000 baby boomers turn 65. Today, 12 million Americans need long-term services and supports; by 2050 that number will have more than doubled, to 27 million. Congress must take steps now to prepare our nation for this potential crisis. Taking up the Long Term Care Commission’s excellent workforce recommendations is a good place to start.
Jodi M. Sturgeon is president of the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, headquartered in New York.