The newly established Eldercare Workforce Alliance has announced that it will work to address the critical shortage of healthcare providers and caregivers adequately prepared to meet the unique care needs of older adults.
Funded in part by Atlantic Philanthropies and the John A. Hartford Foundation, the alliance is a coalition of twenty-five national organizations representing the interests of older adults and the eldercare workforce. Coalition members include AARP, the American Medical Association, the National Council on Aging, and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America.
The alliance was created in response to a 2008 report issued by the Institute of Medicine which found that the eldercare workforce is dangerously understaffed and unprepared to care for the rapidly growing number of older adults in the United States. According to the report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce (report brief, 4 pages, PDF), the number of Americans age 65 and older will nearly double, to 77 million, by 2030.
In response to the workforce shortage, EWA is proposing to strengthen the direct-care workforce through better training, supervision, and compensation, while addressing clinician and faculty shortages through incentives such as loan forgiveness, increased public funding for training, and improved compensation. It also will work to ensure a competent workforce by encouraging agencies and organizations that certify and regulate the eldercare workforce to require demonstrated and continued competence.
"Strengthening these care-giving fields is essential to quality of care for older adults in America and may also drive long-term employment and economic growth," said EWA project director Alice H. Hedt. "EWA's goal is to develop practical solutions that will build a caring and competent workforce providing high-quality, culturally sensitive, person-directed, and family-focused care for America's elders."