Older workers: an opportunity to expand the long-term care/direct care labor force.

Abstract

PURPOSE This study examined issues related to using older workers in frontline jobs in long-term care from employers' and prospective employees' perspectives. DESIGN AND METHODS Telephone surveys were conducted with employers representing 615 nursing homes and 410 home health agencies, and 1,091 low-income participants aged 40+ in Operation ABLE employment and training organizations. A total of 696 of these participants were 55 years or older. RESULTS Low-income older workers were interested in paraprofessional careers in long-term care. More were interested in home health care jobs than working in nursing homes. Job titles that most interested these workers were infrequent in nursing homes. Many workers perceived their health status as sufficient for frontline work. The majority was interested in career advancement opportunities and went to senior centers and places of worship to seek employment. Industry employers had many positive perceptions of older direct care workers, but there were real and perceived deterrents to hiring older workers. The most prominent deterrents were employers' perceptions that older workers have higher health care costs and are less willing to use technology. IMPLICATIONS Policy makers should target Title V funds toward training low-income older workers for long-term care jobs, particularly in using mechanical devices and long-term care technologies. Employment and training organizations should add coursework in long-term care technologies, learn about legal issues in targeting advertising to low-income older workers, and educate employers about ways to reach these prospective employees. Older workers can use information about employers' perceptions when seeking employment.

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Cite this paper

@article{Hwalek2008OlderWA, title={Older workers: an opportunity to expand the long-term care/direct care labor force.}, author={Melanie Hwalek and Victoria Straub and Karen Kosniewski}, journal={The Gerontologist}, year={2008}, volume={48 Spec No 1}, pages={90-103} }