Sue Misiorski, VP of Workforce Innovations, PHI
Are you spending the majority of your time managing staffing challenges and other problems that are a direct result of the workforce crisis? If so, you are not alone. This is the plight of employers across the full continuum of long term services and supports. In our field, between 80-90% of the hands-on care is provided by care partners that are known as home health aides, personal care attendants, and certified nursing assistants. The number of these care partners needed far exceeds the number available. In fact, by the year 2026, we need as many as 1 million new care partners to meet the needs of our aging population (https://phinational.org/policy-research/key-facts-faq/). This is not good news for a sector that’s already struggling to find and keep quality staff. Starting in 2017, PHI—the nation’s leading resource on the direct care workforce—pledged to find 60 ways to improve the caregiver crisis. We launched a national 60 Issues Campaign that completed publications on its first 30 issues, and is now in its second year. You can access this campaign and all its free resources at https://60caregiverissues.org.
One important issue recently addressed in the campaign is the need to recruit new workers. We have a tendency in long term care to “recycle” the same employees.
One important issue recently addressed in the campaign is the need to recruit new workers. We have a tendency in long term care to “recycle” the same employees. In other words, if Jane quits the nursing home she works at on the East side of town, and then gets the same job at a nursing home on the West side of town, we’ve kept the overall number of workers available the same. In order to find 1 million new workers, we need a multi-pronged approach that includes a variety of interventions, including targeted recruitment strategies. PHIs 60 Issues campaign has recently addressed this topic, coming out with a 3-part series on recruiting younger workers, older workers and men.
Younger workers, otherwise known as millennials, are vital to bring into our workplaces. Did you know that 51% of younger people in the labor force are also enrolled in school? This creates an ideal opportunity to promote direct care jobs as a career entry point. Forming relationships with schools and colleges is also critical. Long term care is an excellent place for students to gain real career experience while working towards a degree. Be sure to reach into this market by following steps outlined in PHIs issue brief: https://phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Younger-Workers-PHI-2018.pdf.
Older workers are also a key part of the solution to our workforce crisis. In fact, 79% of workers plan to get a new job after they retire—either because of financial necessity, or personal preference. Direct care can be promoted as an “encore career” capitalizing on existing skills and providing an opportunity for additional learning. Flexible schedules and an emphasis on altruism may be particularly appealing to this demographic. Starting a new career as a care partner is an important opportunity to give back to the community. Please check out https://phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Older-WorkersPHI-2018.pdf for more tips on hiring older workers.
Finally, another under-tapped resource for new workers is men. Males comprise 53% of the labor force and 40% of family caregivers, but only 14% work as paid care partners. Recruiting males who have been serving as family caregivers is a great resource for long term care to tap into, while highlighting the skills and competencies they can gain. For more tips on recruiting men, go to https://phinational.org/wpcontent/uploads/2018/04/Male-Workers-PHI-2018.pdf. While the vast majority of existing care partners are women, we will certainly need to shift this to recruit a million more workers!