The authors of a new study out of UC San Francisco say 2.5 million more long-term care (LTC) workers are needed between now and 2030 to keep up with the aging population. Additionally, they say it makes no difference in demand whether seniors choose to live in an LTC facility or at home.
20 percent of Americans will be age 65 by 2030, according to the study, and those 19 million adults will need LTC services by 2050, which is up from 8 million in 2000.
"Even if 20 percent of elderly patients move out of nursing homes into home health care, which would be huge change, the projected increase in demand for long-term care workers would only drop from 79 percent to 74 percent," said Joanne Spetz, PhD, in a press release. "Filling these jobs will be a big challenge under any scenario. We're looking at a big increase in jobs no matter how the demographics play out."
Spetz is the lead author of the study and a professor at the UCSF Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and associate director for research strategy at the UCSF Center for the Health Professions.
To help this problem, Spetz and other study authors suggest policymakers and educators work double-time to recruit and train LTC workers, especially home health and personal care aides.
The jobs needed most over the next 15 years are:
- Social workers
- Community and social service workers
- Home health and personal care aides
"In terms of sheer numbers, the greatest need is going to be for home health and personal care aides, with well over 1 million additional jobs by 2030," Spetz said in the press release. "The challenge is that these are currently very low-paid, high-turnover, entry-level positions. A lot of people in these jobs are living in poverty while working full time. We have to figure out how to make them sustainable."