Older Workers

An Opportunity to Expand the Long-Term Care/Direct Care Labor Force

Older workers are a population that could prove helpful in addressing the impending shortage in the direct care workforce. 

This article details the findings of a study of employers and prospective employees in the long-term care industry and their attitudes toward using older adults in direct care jobs. Study participants included 615 nursing home employers, 410 home health agency employers, and 1,019 respondents from Operation ABLE, an organization geared toward older workers, of which 696 were aged 55 years and older. Data was collected from focus groups and surveys.

Key Findings:                      

  • Older workers expressed interest in jobs in the long-term care industry. They preferred to work in home health agencies as opposed to direct care jobs in nursing homes.
  • Nursing home and home health agency employers have positive views on older workers.
  • Employers may be discouraged from hiring older workers due to beliefs that older workers have higher health care costs and do not want to use technology.
  • Organizations that focus on employment for and training of older workers can facilitate older workers taking jobs in long-term care.

Policy-makers can play a role in promoting older workers as viable options in long-term care jobs by taking actions such as delegating Title V funds for training older workers for the direct care workforce.