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STUDY: More Long-Term Care Workers Needed, Especially Home Care Aides

June 25, 2015

The U.S. will need three million more long-term care workers over the next 15 years, according to a study published in the June issue of Health Affairs.

Personal care and home health aides are expected to contribute 1.2 million jobs by 2030 — accounting for 40 percent of new jobs in long-term care.

The study’s authors anticipate that shifts in utilization patterns towards more home and community-based service delivery will transfer much of the demand from high-paying professional occupations to entry-level home care jobs.

The researchers modeled six potential scenarios for changing utilization patterns, incorporating research on long-term care spending and utilization preferences of different racial and ethnic groups.

They concluded that spending patterns will increase the likelihood that, in the coming decades, more long-term care will be delivered in home and community-based settings and less in nursing facilities and other institutions.

While a 20 percent decrease in nursing home utilization relative to home and community-based services would decrease the total number of long-term care jobs needed — mostly the jobs of institutional workers such as registered nurses, nursing assistants, and food preparation staff — it would increase the number of home care aides needed by 50,000.

According to the study’s authors, such a scenario may soon be a reality. They conclude that given the “forecasted growth of the number of direct-care provider jobs, now is the time to develop and enhance training and education programs for all direct-care workers.”

— by Stephen Campbell, PHI Policy Research Associate

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