Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Caregiver Shortage to Affect Everyone

Here’s the headline that hit my inbox today: “One Million New Direct-Care Workers Needed by 2016.”

This fact was taken from a recent report by PHI, an advocacy group for direct care workers, that also noted that home care and home health aides are among the fastest growing occupations projected for the coming decade.
That number is an incredibly large number, especially when it is accompanied by the miniscule growth in the pool from which these workers are typically drawn – women ages 25-54.

This level of shortage will likely affect nearly every community – and many, many families.

What can we do? Here are some ideas that we all can participate in implementing:

1. Start a small movement in your work, home, and community to improve the respect caregivers experience. If you work with caregivers, go out of your way to thank them. Tell others what a great job they do for all of us. If the job begins to have more social rewards, perhaps it will begin to attract more individuals, male and female.

2. Support caregiver training. If you employ caregivers (whether on a family level or a corporate level), invest in their training. This not only helps the individual caregiver build skills and knowledge, it also supports training efforts that are available in the community. Free training opportunities are out there (here’s a sample that came into my inbox today); many caregivers, however, need support in the form of payment for their time or other compensation to be able to take advantage of these opportunities. Find a way to help this process. Our company is supporting caregiving training by posting “How-To” videos on the internet on a website called Howcast. Check out a few samples: Blood Pressure, Wash Hands, and more. We're also actively involved in developing and providing more online training for CNAs and caregivers, increasing the access which will, in turn, increase the supply of qualified caregivers.

3. Support bills, regulations and initiatives to improve the pay and benefits of caregivers in your state.

Small steps, but the payoff will be huge – and personal – some day.

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