Please note! This essay has been submitted by a student.
More than half of all adult workers in the United States have a high school diploma or less. That’s millions of people who need a “low barrier to entry” job. Caregiving is a “low barrier to entry” job. The caregiver shortage stems less from a shortage of people who CAN do the work. Rather, it is more a shortage of people who are willing to work under the conditions most caregivers face every day.
Ai-jen Poo, the Director of Caring Across Generations says, “Employment prospects are not very attractive: the hours are long, the work is demanding, the pay is low, and there are few labor protections like sick days, vacation time, or healthcare benefits.” Deprived of training, support, and respect, caregivers tend to be treated as expendable. So, when presented with another employment option, most caregivers jump ship. Some go to other senior care providers who promise better treatment. Others strike out on their own in private duty. Many leave the industry altogether for retail, food service, hospitality, or Amazon. A better choice. All is not lost! There is a way to turn the tide. But, it’s not a simple or solitary solution. It’s an entire paradigm shift. The situation demands a comprehensive approach that includes ALL of the following actions: Provide initial and ongoing training.
Sending untrained caregivers into the field with little or no training guarantees a high turnover rate. Identify powerful motivators. A fair wage, a little gratitude, and opportunities to advance go a long way in attracting and keeping caregivers. Offer “support services” to workers. Organizations must remember that caregivers are their internal customers who require assistance to keep from going broke while dedicating themselves to their careers. Inspire loyalty. Employees go the extra mile when they feel empowered and respected. Involve all five working generations. Hiring from all generations widens the pool of possibilities and makes the care team stronger.