The number of people age 65 and older is expected to increase to one out of every five by the year 2030. Will Washington State have enough properly trained health care providers?
Two peer-reviewed fact sheets from the University of Washington School of Public Health and the William D. Ruckelshaus Center shed light on that question by addressing the eldercare workforce and policies that would allow older adults to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
“Together, these fact sheets tell a clear, compelling story about who provides care to older Washingtonians; what kinds of care they offer, and where; and policy approaches for ensuring that older adults receive appropriate, timely care,” said Ms. Patricia Lichiello, affiliate instructor of health services for the School of Public Health.
Ms. Lichiello was first author of the report on “Washington State’s Eldercare Workforce,” a baseline study of the types of health care providers (from nurses to informal and family caregivers) for older adults, as well as projected future supply and demand for their labor. “It’s a new way of defining the eldercare workforce,” said Ms. Lichiello.
She stressed that is also important to highlight the range of employers of eldercare providers, such as adult family homes and assisted living facilities. The report notes “the supply of eldercare workers who are appropriately trained in some level of geriatric care is critically short.”
The second fact sheet, “Aging in Place: A Policy Approach for Aging Well,” notes the range of costs, from an average of $86,000 a year in nursing homes to $23,000 for care in a person’s home or residential setting. The policy discussion focuses on eldercare workforce capacity; care service financing; land use, transportation, and environmental planning; and hospital discharge planning and community-based care coordination.
Ms. Lichiello noted that for people to remain in their homes, it’s important to have good sidewalks, parks and street lighting, as well as zoning that allows for small businesses in residential areas. Community-based care coordination includes, for example, advice on helping elders or their family members understand how to use medications.
The papers were co-authored by Ms. Cate Clegg-Thorp, formerly a researcher in the Health Policy Center at the University of Washington, and Mr. Michael A. Kern, director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, a joint effort of the Washington State University Extension and the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.