Future Demand For Long-Term Care Workers Will Be Influenced By Demographic and Utilization Changes
A looming question for policy makers is how growing diversity of the US elderly population and greater use of home and community-based services will affect demand for long-term care workers. We used national surveys to analyze current use and staffing of long-term care, project demand for long-term care services and workers through 2030, and assess how projections varied if we changed assumptions about utilization patterns. If current trends continue, the occupations anticipated to grow the most over the period are counselors and social workers (94 percent), community and social services workers (93 percent), and home health and personal care aides (88 percent). Alternative projections were computed for scenarios that assumed changing racial and ethnic patterns of long-term care use or shifts toward noninstitutional care. For instance, if Hispanics used services at the same rate as non-Hispanic blacks, the projected demand for long-term care workers would be 5 percent higher than if current trends continued. If 20 percent of nursing home care were shifted to home health services, total employment growth would be about 12 percent lower. Demographic and utilization changes would have little effect on projections of robust long-term care employment growth between now and 2030. Policy makers and educators should redouble efforts to create and sustainably fund programs to recruit, train, and retain long-term care workers.