One of the biggest problems facing older adults in the United States is the growing shortage of professional caregivers. San Diego is feeling the pressure along with other cities across the nation. The demand for caregivers is increasing as the Baby Boomers need more services. Something needs to be done to ensure that the support they need is available to them.

Why are We Experiencing a Shortage of Professional Caregivers?

According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the shortage is occurring due to an increase in demand from consumers, as well as turnover because of career changes or people leaving the workforce.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 7.8 million direct care openings are projected from 2016 to 2026:

  • 4 million new jobs created due to growth in the industry
  • 6 million jobs that need to be filled due to employees leaving the labor force
  • 8 million jobs to fill due to employees making a career change to other industries

This $103 billion industry is facing a serious crisis as more people reach retirement age and require care in medical facilities and at home. The health care system is strained and working to keep seniors at home and out of the hospitals. Many of the people in need of care suffer from chronic health conditions and require ongoing assistance.

Finding a Solution

Recommendations have been released by the California Future Health Workforce Commission, to close this gap by 2030. Not only is it anticipated that we will have a shortage of professional in-home caregivers, but there will be additional need for nurse practitioners, primary care physicians, social workers, and physicians’ assistants.

On a positive note for workers, the increased demand for healthcare professionals with geriatric expertise means there is great career opportunity for people with the heart and skill set to work with older adults. Many people choose to have a lifelong career in professional caregiving, while others enter the workforce in this position, then use their valuable experience to move into nursing or other healthcare careers.

Home care agencies looking for qualified, desirable candidates are working harder than ever to attract and retain professional caregivers, competing with other care providers like residential care facilities, as well as employers in other service industries.

The shortage of professional caregivers is a serious issue, but there is hope on the horizon.

Kimberly Torrence, Director of Operations
Kimberly Torrence, Director of Operations

What is Windward Life Care doing to recruit and retain the best professional caregivers? We actively track local, state and national trends affecting recruiting and retention.  We have adjusted to labor force challenges without sacrificing our Home Care Aide skills and experience requirements. Retention of quality employees is one of our highest priorities because it benefits our clients, our company and the community we serve.  Our comprehensive orientation, ongoing training, and professional support from Aging Life Care Managers help our Home Care Aides to thrive in their role at Windward. This training and support, in addition to our competitive pay and outstanding benefits package, enables us to retain experienced caregivers. Understanding our employees’ needs and working with them to create the schedule they desire makes Windward a partner in their career and life satisfaction.  A strong indicator of our success in this area is the fact that our caregiver turnover rate is 28% less than the national average. We are proud to be the employer of choice for experienced and professional Home Care Aides in San Diego County. Contact us if you want to see how our Home Care Aides can enhance your life!

– Kimberly Torrence, Director of Operations

June is Pride Month, which is a great time to celebrate diversity and evaluate how we can better support equality for all older adults. We’d like to highlight an important topic: how discrimination affects the LGBTQ population living in senior living settings, and what needs to be done to fix this problem.

Problems in Senior Communities

It’s a tragedy that many LGBTQ older adults feel they must go “back in the closet” in senior living to avoid harassment/discrimination. Some LGBTQ older adults experience mistreatment from facility caregivers on a one-on-one level, and some facilities have cohabitation policies that discriminate against same-sex marriage and relationships. In addition to facing discrimination and mistreatment from facility staff, LGBTQ older adults may also find that other residents are exclusionary, or even abusive. As a result, older adults sometimes feel that their only option is to conceal their sexual orientation and/or gender identity so they can have a place to live and receive the care they need.

This situation can be difficult to face when a person has for decades of lived openly. It is a step in the wrong direction if seniors need to pretend to be siblings or “just friends.” In addition, LGBTQ older adults should not fear elder abuse in the form of emotional or physical harm from staff or other residents.

While these problems are common across the nation, some providers are looking for ways to accommodate all people. Many forward-thinking senior housing communities see the problem and are opening their doors to the LGBTQ community.

Legal Protections for LGBTQ Adults

If you or a loved one is being discriminated against in a senior housing setting, then it is important to know that legal protections are available. LGBTQ older adults need to be aware of their legal rights and tap into the resources and support that is offered. For example, a U.S. District Court recently ruled that senior housing landlords cannot discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Where should you turn for the legal support and advocacy that is needed? SAGE is a national non-profit organization that advocates for LGBTQ older adults. They have a “National LGBT Housing Initiative” designed to tackle the problems LGBTQ seniors are facing when looking for housing options. The goal is to improve and expand senior living options for older adults, giving them a safe place to live without fear of discrimination or harassment. Elder law attorneys experienced in working with senior housing issues are another good resource.

Windward Life Care is here to help you find the right services and support in San Diego County. A member of the San Diego Equality Business Association, Windward is committed to providing compassionate and inclusive services for older and disabled adults in our community.