Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me….

In the largest survey of long-term and residential care providers to date, responses received by LeadingAge from 689 providers revealed:

  • High levels of caregiver vacancy rates in assisted living and nursing homes
  • Major problems finding applicants and qualifed caregivers
  • Signifcant wage disparity between people working as trained personal caregivers and unskilled entry level workers taking jobs at gas stations, big-box stores, and fast food restaurants
  • Lost admissions into advanced care facilities due to lack of caregivers
  • An exodus of caregivers to jobs outside of healthcare
  • Widespread use of overtime, double shifts and other strategies to fill scheduling gaps

“The results of the survey, together with data from the Wisconsin Office of Caregiver Quality showing a decline in persons seeking or renewing certification as nursing assistants (CNA), expose a significant workforce crisis facing providers (and loved ones) caring for people in need of long-term services…”

Who’s Taking Care Now and How’s That Working Out?

If current statistics are any indication, you and I are very likely to be providing some level of care for a friend or family member in the future. More than 65 million people, 29% of the U.S. population, provide care for a chronically ill, disabled, or aged family member or friend during any given year and spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care for their loved one.

What do caregivers do? More than just giving rides to the doctor and running errands. Nearly half provide some kind of medical care, from changing bandages (30 percent) to inserting catheters or feeding tubes (6 percent). Here’s the scary thing, though, only 47 percent of those say they got most or all of the training needed for their often delicate tasks.

“Training for caregivers is a shortcoming in the health system”, said Judy Feder, a professor at Georgetown University McCourty and School of Public Policy. “Caregivers are taken for granted and they are invisible in the system. It’s bad for them, it’s bad for care recipients, and it’s bad for the system because there’s evidence that if you engage them, it improves the quality of care.”

Just one-third of all caregivers and fewer than half of those who provide at least one type of medical care say they have any formal training, including from a medical professional, a class on senior care, or their own professional experience.

Are You Prepared to Care?

Even if you won’t be delivering direct care for a friend or loved one:

  • do you know how to assess whether someone living alone needs care?
  • do you know the questions to ask to evaluate a skilled nursing facility?
  • how would you go about choosing an agency for in-home care?
  • when do you call 911 and what do you do until the EMTs arrive?

AARP offers a tremendous amount of quality resource material. These checklists include how to have vital conversations with older family members, organize important documents, assess your loved one’s needs and locate important resources. To Prepare to Care today, start with this valuable step-by-step CareGuide for Caregiving at Home.

You can’t plan for the unknown, but you can be prepared for the inevitable. – Sharon Willen

Activities of Daily Living


Prepare to Care