Senior in wheelchair

What the Shortage of Caregivers in the USA Means

Two separate crises are facing senior adults “aging in place” at home, and the problem is worsening. Here in 2019, there are the dual issues of few families being prepared to help loved ones with care needs when they can no longer care for themselves, as well as a troubling shortage of paid, professional caregivers.

So, who will care for our senior friends and loved ones when the need arises? Naturally, there will continue to be skilled and compassionate home healthcare workers available, but their ranks simply aren’t growing to meet expanding demand. Today’s blog post offers a closer look at the caregiver shortage problem and some of the ways the home care industry is rising to meet the challenges.

What is driving increased demand for caregivers?

As we covered in a recent post, demand for caregivers has shot up—and continues to rise—because of the sudden flood of Baby Boomer retirees. This generation is currently retiring at a rate of about 10,000 people per day in the United States, and healthcare resources across the board are struggling to keep up. This generation is also expected to live longer than their parents and grandparents did because healthcare, and access to it, has improved significantly throughout their lives. At this point, these facts are no longer genuinely newsworthy, of course, but there is another factor that is increasing demand for home healthcare workers.

Boomer retirees have expressed a keen interest in remaining in their homes as they age.

According to AARP, about 87% of adults aged 65 or older in 2014 reported that they did not want to move from their current home or community as they age. There are many reasons for this, but the skyrocketing costs associated with moving into retirement communities is certainly part of their preference.

Unfortunately, confidence in their current good health also influences their thinking, and some individuals just are not planning ahead. Many of these people will also need caregiving assistance at some point, but it may catch them and their families by surprise. Even if it’s just temporary in-home care after surgery or a brief illness, it’s never too early to think about future potential care needs.

Why are there so few qualified caregivers?

First, becoming a caregiver requires a compassionate heart for sometimes emotionally challenging work. There are also training requirements, and for nurses with more advanced education levels, ongoing licensure requirements. These factors can be intimidating to younger workers and jobseekers trying to determine the best career paths for themselves.

Traditionally, home care workers have not been compensated at very competitive rates compared to similar positions within private residential care facilities and hospitals. While there are some agencies like ours here at MediQuest Staffing who have always offered generous compensation packages, the field overall does not have an excellent reputation for good pay and flexible schedules.

This is mostly because, until very recently, home care was considered a luxury as opposed to a need, and plenty of national home care chains simply did not have to offer the best pay to attract the number of caregivers they needed to fill their rosters. Attitudes are changing, however, and many people now consider homecare a necessity. We are happy about this, of course, but we’re working every day to dispel myths about the nature of the jobs we have to offer.

What are the consequences of the caregiver shortage?

While the shortage of caregivers continues, it will be difficult for homecare providers to contain the rising costs of attracting and retaining talented new home healthcare workers. This means that costs to clients will go up, which could lead to fewer individuals who need help with activities of daily living (ADLs)—bathing, dressing, eating, and more—actually being able to get help.

There could be long waiting lists for services, and some individuals who desperately want to remain in their homes as they age may not be able to. Alternatively, untrained/unpaid family members and neighbors may have to help out as they can, which increases stress and can lower quality of life for all involved.

Home care agencies are leading the way on solutions to the crisis

Luckily, it’s not all bad news. Home care agencies happen to be full of people who thrive on problem-solving, and we are actively spreading the word about how caregiving is a fulfilling and well-compensated career option for many people. Additionally, there are ways to design flexible working schedules that suit individuals’ unique lifestyles.

How you can help

Want to help us solve the caregiver shortage crisis here in the Lancaster, PA area? Get trained to be a caregiver or encourage a younger person with a compassionate heart for service to consider training to become a certified nursing assistant dedicated to home healthcare. There are many great jobs available, and unlike with certain other career paths, home healthcare workers will be in demand for a long time!

MediQuest Staffing is South Central PA’s Best Choice for Home Care

If you need home care services or are a caregiver looking for a new employment opportunity, we can help. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how we’re rising to meet the challenges in our industry and providing exceptional care and service.