Tag Archives: aging services

Wake-up Call: Aging Services Workforce Wage Crisis

We need to examine the value of our long term care system within an ethical framework.

Aging Services providers are screaming from the mountain tops about the workforce crisis– is anyone listening? The workforce crisis is about the inability of aging services providers to fill open positions and the lack of competitive wages, primarily for certified nursing assistants.

How do we square the high level of quality care that most seem to desire for our frail elders with the lack of attention that this issue receives at the national level?

Other industries are also fighting for service workers. This Washington Post article reports that a Chick-fil-A owner in California is planning to pay $18.00 for front line workers. The problem is, nursing assistants in C.A. make, on average, $17.00/hr with the low end at $15.53, according to salary.com. 

The mean hourly wage for a C.N.A. nationally is $14.22, and working in a nursing home or assisted living drops it to $13.73. Given these points, can we, and should we do better than this?

It is simply unrealistic to expect that we can nationally build and maintain an eldercare workforce and not address wages. For this reason, this crisis is worthy of an ethical and philosophical national discussion.

The Value of Excellence in ElderCare

Healthcare reimbursement should reflect the value that our society ascribes to quality eldercare services. To that end, we need a reimbursement methodology that invests in improving wages for front line caregiving.

Chick-fil-A can raise prices to offset higher wages. However, with less than 30% of long-term care consumers paying privately, there is no way for providers to raise pricing enough to offset higher wages. Furthermore, it is not right to balance this problem on the backs of those paying privately. Therefore, with 70% of reimbursements to skilled nursing providers coming from Medicaid/Medicare, the solution largely rests with policy-makers.

We have to seriously discuss the value of quality ElderCare in the United States. Given that a majority of the U.S. Congress being of the baby boom generation, the time is right. With this in mind, the ethical and philosophical questions to examine include:

  • Does our system act in such a way to produce a greater amount of good over harm?
  • Do we maximize utility- the sum of the benefits produced minus the costs (disbenefits)?
  • Do we have a system that we all want for ourselves?
  • Fidelity- have we kept our promise, and are we forsaking the well-being of our elders?
  • Have we assigned an appropriate societal value to the work provided by personal caregivers?

Is this the right place to start?

 

 

Julie has worked in Aging Services for over 30 years and has been a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator since 1990. She is a Certified Master Trainer with the AGE-u-cate Training Institute. Through her company Enlighten Eldercare,  Julie provides training and educational programs on elder caregiving for family and professional caregivers.  In addition, she is an instructor and the Interim Director of Gerontology at Northern Illinois University and lives in the Chicago Northwest Suburb of Mount Prospect, IL.

The Family Caregiving Tsunami is Here. How are We Supporting Them?

We have a family caregiving tsunami whose tidal waves are affecting every corner of our society.  I venture to say that most communities are not prepared for the domino effects of a fast-aging population let along to provide support to their families that are scrambling to stay above water – emotionally, physically and financially.

November is National Family Caregivers Month.  Spearheaded by the Caregiver Action Network, the theme is Caregiving Around the Clock.  

As I travel abroad, I certainly see first hand that the challenges in the US are felt around the globe as this age-wave takes hold.  Public institutions are already stretched to serve current needs and despite the growth of

Let’s look at a few staggering US statistics compiled by the Family Caregiver Alliance:

  • Approximately 43.5 million caregivers have provided unpaid care to an adult or child in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • About 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult age 50 or older in the last 12 months. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • The majority of caregivers (82%) care for one other adult, while 15% care for 2 adults, and 3% for 3 or more adults. [National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. (2015). Caregiving in the U.S.]
  • Approximately 39.8 million caregivers provide care to adults (aged 18+) with a disability or illness or 16.6% of Americans. [Coughlin, J. (2010). Estimating the Impact of Caregiving and Employment on Well-Being: Outcomes & Insights in Health Management.]
  • About 15.7 million adult family caregivers care for someone who has Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]

What is the Economic Impact?  

  • The value of services provided by informal caregivers has steadily increased over the last decade, with an estimated economic value of $470 billion in 2013, up from $450 billion in 2009 and $375 billion in 2007. [AARP Public Policy Institute. (2015). Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update.]
  • At $470 billion in 2013, the value of unpaid caregiving exceeded the value of paid home care and total Medicaid spending in the same year and nearly matched the value of the sales of the world’s largest company, Wal-Mart ($477 billion). [AARP Public Policy Institute. (2015). Valuing the Invaluable: 2015 Update.]
  • The economic value of the care provided by unpaid caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias was $217.7 billion in 2014. [Alzheimer’s Association. (2015). 2015 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.]

The clock never stops for family caregivers, and globally the clock is ticking for public and private institutions, community organizations, faith communities and each one of us in this space to make a committment-  that in 2019 we do more to reach family caregivers, provide support services and needed resources.  They are and will remain the largest group support our aging population in the years ahead.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate® Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and those who serve them.

Ushering in a New Culture of Change at Pioneer Network

We are honored to be a part of the National Pioneer Network Conference kicking off today in beautiful Denver, Colorado.  Ushering in a New Culture of Change promises to be an enlightening and invigorating educational and networking event for participants and those serving the elder care industry.  AGE-u-cate® Training Institute will be offering it’s internationally acclaimed Dementia Live® Experience and Compassionate Touch® Program to innovators

Pioneer Network was founded in 1997 by a small group of prominent professionals in long-term care who were pioneers in changing the culture of aging. These forward thinkers developed the mission and vision, as well as the values and principles, that continue to guide their work to this day.  Today, Pioneer Network is a large, diverse group of passionate individuals from the entire spectrum of aging services. Most are engaged in some aspect of senior living or long-term care which includes nursing homes, assisted living, and other providers of services and supports for elders, as well as the generous supporters, including people that work, live in or visit these settings.

The goals of Pioneer Network have and continue to be a model of care that supports and makes possible for our elders these elements:

Life-Affirming, that is promoting a positive outlook that encourages optimism about life; one that is hopeful and ultimately enjoyable.

Satisfying, meaning that desires, expectations, and needs of the individual are being met so that the person has a sense of contentment.

Humane, which is characterized by tenderness, compassion, and sympathy for our elders and those who are suffering.

Meaningful, which simply is having a sense of purpose and a meaning in their lives.

Pioneer Network was started by pioneers and to this day continues to lead the way for a culture of change in elder care around the world.  We face many challenges ahead in meeting the needs of the fast-growing elder population,  but it is through the efforts of organizations such as this and many others, collaborating with passionate-life minded people that we have a future for elders that can usher in new opportunities for personal growth, improved care, and certainly a life worth living.  Thank you to the leaders at Pioneer Network for the hard work you do every day to improve the lives of our elders and those who serve them.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute and a passionate advocate for older adults and their caregivers.  Pam is the creator of the internationally acclaimed Dementia Live® Simulation Experience and other innovative dementia programs.  Pam may be reached at pam@AGEucate.com.

 

 

Caring Connections – What Happens When it all Comes Together?

VerbindungenIt’s a small small world in many ways. Those of us with a mission and passion to help others just seem to find each other. Caring people find connections with other caring people – it’s like magic!
We all know the basics of health 101: eat well, exercise, get proper sleep. Add to that the science of social connections. One study showed that lack of social connections is a greater detriment to health than obesity, smoking and high blood pressure.
People who are connected to each others experience:

Lower rates of anxiety and depression
Higher self esteem
More empathy toward others
Are more trusting and cooperative

Each one of us this great sphere of senior care/healthcare/aging services have a mission. As organizations, obviously our missions are focused on the products and services we offer. But in order for us to carry out our missions, we have to connect with others with whom our own products/services can be enhanced so we can fulfill and further our organization’s mission. It’s just the way it works!

If we look at the analogy behind the science of social connections and it’s importance for individuals, I believe we can make that same link to the health of organizations and employees when the caring connections take place. The benefits of connecting for the right reason multiply.

Caring connections translates into collaboration, cooperation and doing the right thing for the right reason. Like individuals, when this is not practiced, loneliness, isolation and alienation sets in. This simply won’t work for those of us on a mission to care for others.

What happens when it all comes together? We all win! Those we whom we serve, our employees and the health and well being or organization.

Caring connections is a practice that makes us all better people; it gives us a mission beyond ourselves.

Pam Brandon is President/Founder of AGE-u-cate Training Institute, whose mission is to create transformative change for an aging world.

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