Health care aides shortage reaching crisis levels

A few years back, there were an abundance of health care aides and nursing assistants coming into the workplace. But when most realized that the average wage was about $10 an hour that skilled labor pool quickly dried up.

The shortage of health care aides for seniors and adults with disabilities is reaching crisis levels in many states including Illinois. The rise of boomers in the senior ranks is only going to compound the problem in coming years.

Senior ranks will increase from 48 million to 88 million by 2050. And of course those seniors are going be needing the kind of assistive care now in short supply.

The obvious response is to hire more workers – but that isn’t going to be easy.

A statistic I read points to a need for 1.1 million more care workers in the next seven years. The issue is that the typical pool for this labor is women between the ages of 24 and 64 and growth in that sector is anticipated to be slower than needed.

It sounds grim and it is. But there are some pointing to Medicaid as a solution. Many times the wages for these workers at nursing homes are subject to funding by Medicaid. Increase the budget to pay for these workers and the field will expand.  

In my experience, sounding the alarm is always a good start. And with many doing so now, it’s not too late to take action to address this issue.

I certainly hope it changes soon as I see many of our clients struggling to find these resources for the latter stages of their lives.

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