By 2030, there will be over 1.1 million people over the age of 65 living in the Greater Washington region.
As older adults are increasingly choosing to age in place, cross-cutting issues are coming to the forefront – the quality of care received by disabled or chronically ill older adults in their own homes, and the quality of the jobs of the caregivers who provide this care.
In-home care is often provided by direct care workers – an over-arching term that captures a number of different occupations, but in general refers to caregivers who provide essential assistance with everyday tasks like bathing, dressing, and eating. Direct care workers play a huge role in maintaining the health and general well-being of their clients. And, due to the oncoming “silver tsunami” of older adults, direct care jobs are some of the fastest growing occupations in the entire economy.
Despite the size of the workforce and the important services that direct care workers provide, the workforce is faced with a number of challenges. These include extremely low pay, irregular hours, inadequate training, and high rates of employee turnover. There is a clear need for better employment practices and policy changes to improve the quality of direct care jobs, by raising pay and benefits, standardizing and increasing employee training, and creating career pathways that lead to higher paying jobs. These efforts, in turn, will help improve the quality of the care that older adults receive.
In this edition of What Funders Need to Know, we take a look at the state of the local direct care workforce today and the connections between quality jobs and quality care, and discuss five ways that funders can get involved. This report is a culmination of information learned through convenings of WRAG’s Working Group on Aging.
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