The population of elderly people in the United States is rapidly increasing. It is estimated that there are more than 49 million elderly persons aged 65 and over, which constitutes 14% of the total population of the United States. As the number of older adults continue to rise, so does the employer’s demand for semi-skilled, skilled and experienced professionals to support them. The shortage of companions, caregivers and professionals in the eldercare field is a perpetual problem throughout the country. The shortage of workers in this field affects not only older adults that require care or assistance, but also those upon whom they rely for help with daily tasks such as shopping and basic household duties.
Older adults and people with disabilities are greatly affected by the shortage of professionals. The loss of skilled caregivers can have an effect on family members and friends, as many families are forced to pick up the slack, often driving themselves and their loved ones to complete basic tasks, such as bathing and dressing. Hospitals face an even more desperate situation regarding qualified employees. If a hospital employee experiences illness or injury, they cannot be replaced quickly due to the time needed to train a replacement employee. This can result in extended nursing care and distress to both the employee and the hospital. The shortage of proper caregivers can also have serious health consequences. Pressure/bedsores, infections, and lack of care can compound existing medical conditions such as dementia.
It is also not uncommon for a hospital to lose its most valuable resource: its employees, due to their illnesses, resignations or displacement. There are many professionals available that provide care and assistance to elderly persons; however, they are often overshadowed by other employers with more readily available needs. The shortage of experienced professionals in the eldercare field impacts a variety of institutions and businesses.
Because skilled professional caregivers are often needed in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living environments and other institutions, without a growing labor pool, these facilities can be depleted by these professionals leaving for other positions or retiring. Employers that provide health care to older adults, face severe consequences when their staff leaves for other jobs or retire; this results in increased workload, decreased services or those services being unavailable. When a professional caregiver leaves it can be difficult to find a replacement, regardless of whether nursing home, assisted living or home care providers.
“Elder planning helps preserve dignity and independence regardless of circumstances or abilities,” said Joseph Ranni, Esq. of Ranni Law Firm, PLLC (https://RanniLaw.com ) “This staffing crisis is real and can be remedied through a combination of expanding accommodative housing and identifying what are the true needs rather than assuming everything needs to be ‘licensed’ care. There can be companion care, assistance and ‘help-the-helper’ to alleviate some of the train. These indisputably desperate times require creative solutions and methods.” he added.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services estimated that by 2030, the number of elderly people aged 65 and over will increase to approximately 82 million people. This statistic alone is enough to show that there will be many job openings for skilled professionals in the eldercare field. The elderly care industry is rapidly expanding, with a projected growth of 29% for the industry in the next ten years. This is why there is a dire need for qualified professionals to support the aging population.
The shortage of professional caregivers can negatively affect hospitals and nursing homes, helping them to maintain efficiency and quality. The shortage can also have negative effects on employment opportunities and income for family caregivers who need it leave jobs to take care of their elderly loved ones.
There are several reasons why there is a shortage in quality healthcare professionals at hospitals throughout America. The most common reason for the shortage of skilled caregivers is the lack of appropriate wages and benefits Compensation aside, nursing schools are not able to provide enough students with training to properly address the scope of the staffing crises. Nursing schools and care aide training must increase enrollment, but they often have difficulty finding qualified instructors who have a background in these diverse issues and know how to train students.
Wages are not the only problem. Another problem that contributes to the hospital-staff shortage is the aging nurses and other trained medical professionals. Nursing schools are not able to accommodate for the increasing number of older students, and it is difficult to train new nurses when there are few experienced nurses available. In addition, hospital staff can retire or leave the facility for other jobs that provide more income. The shortage of professionally trained personnel directly affects hospitals and nursing homes during their most difficult times. This results in longer wait times for patients, decreased quality of service and care.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that the average wage for professionals in the eldercare field is approximately $27.00 per hour. These caregivers, such as physicians, nurses and LPNs are paid substantially more than individuals in other fields, such as waiters/waitresses or fast-food workers. The average hourly wage for a professional caregiver is $16.82 per hour according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but often the wages are much lower.
Most hospitals are aware of the need for skilled professionals in the eldercare field; however, they often do not have the opportunity to employ these individuals. Hospitals and other institutions must often compete with other high paying nursing homes and other businesses that offer better compensation. When hospitals cannot afford to keep their skilled professionals, patients are affected because wait times increase, and care may be compromised by unqualified caregivers. It is evident that skilled professional caregivers are in demand in many institutions and businesses. The problem for hospitals and nursing homes is the ability to hire these workers. The healthcare industry must take a concrete initiative to create more jobs in this field, or they suffer from the staff shortage.
Ranni Law Firm, PLLC
Ranni Law Firm, PLLC
148 N Main St
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions, and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Emerald Journal journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.