It’s no secret that the number of elderly adults in our country is growing. Baby boomers are a substantial portion of our population, representing nearly 20% of the American population. As this demographic continues to age, they will begin to need more and more care especially since Americans are living longer lives. Whether through family members, caregivers, or care facilities, this population will soon rely heavily on the younger generation to care for them. However, in the U.S., there is a severe shortage of caregivers willing to fill these jobs.
The shortage of caregivers is largely in part due to low pay, lack of benefits, transportation barriers, and often difficult working conditions. A shortage of workers also means that the quality of applicants is also diminishing. Furthermore, there is a large turnover rate in the industry. Especially in rural areas, the shortage of caregivers is even more apparent as the younger generation moves out of those areas and the elderly population tends to stay.
There are a few steps to take in order to help attract and retain qualified healthcare workers:
- Continued Education helps overall service but also helps employees to be continually engaged and interested in their job.
- Increasing opportunities for leadership. Many caregivers complain about the lack of growth in the career path. Giving them opportunities to make relevant decisions and valuing their opinions and thoughts will help them feel appreciated.
- Employee benefits would help attract and retain qualified workers. Supporting paid leave time can show additional support to your employees.
- Sticking to a consistent work schedule can also benefit employees, giving them a consistent number of hours each week.
Most importantly, there needs to be a change in how society views caregivers. There is a stigma surrounding caregivers that often turns people away. The job that caregivers do is crucial to our society and these people are critical to the lives of elderly and senior patients across the country. We must praise them for the humble service they provide.