Mounting pressures of skyrocketing aging populations, severe barriers to building an expanded caregiving workforce to meet demand and the inability of older generations to rely entirely on family support are all contributing to the crisis of care, a new global report highlights.
The findings have been released by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), in collaboration with Home Instead, in the first comprehensive study into the current state of the global caregiving workforce and the challenges it faces for the future.
The global report — Building the Caregiving Workforce Our Aging World Needs — explores the essential truths that must shape the actions of policymakers, healthcare organizations and professionals, NGOs and other public and private stakeholders when they consider the future of the caregiving workforce, and our ability to more effectively serve older adults around the world.
“This report is intended as a wake-up call for the urgent actions that must be taken to address the global crisis of care, which is already gripping nations around the world,” stressed Jeff Huber, Home Instead CEO. “The pandemic has highlighted the need for us to reimagine traditional methods of care, beginning with elevating the caregiving profession. We are at a critical junction of care for our aging populations, and it’s vital that we all work together to mitigate the global care crisis.”
The recommended actions, presented in the study as part of a crucial road map to build a professional global caregiving workforce, include:
1. Change the perception of the caregiving profession – champion campaigns that transform mindsets about caregiving, from a low-skilled job of last resort to a valued, professional career of the future.
2. Bolster training and education standards – if governments and society acknowledge the value of the care workforce, care providers and governments alike will work to establish quality standards.
3. Support and reward professional caregivers commensurate with the demands of the job and the value they provide – employers across public, private and nonprofit sectors must pay more attention to the emotional and financial needs of professional caregivers – especially if they are to attract young, purpose-driven talent.
4. Fully integrate home care workforce into the health and social-care ecosystem – the professional status of home care workers must keep pace with the demand for and value of this type of care.
Melissa Gong Mitchell, Executive Director of GCOA, explains, “These recommendations are designed to act as a catalyst for action and collaboration from a multisector, multidisciplinary group of stakeholders. As aging affects each and every one of us – our parents and grandparents today and ourselves and our children in the future – innovation and action must start now if we are to build a robust, thriving workforce of professional caregivers. Each recommendation in our report builds on the others, and no single area can be ignored if we truly want to address this care crisis.”
The authors of the report highlight serious consequences of these recommendations being ignored. This includes declining options for care as the number of older adults requiring support exponentially increases in coming years, leading to worsening health outcomes, higher costs and undesirable living conditions as affordable, quality care becomes more difficult to access.
“By ensuring our caregiving workforce around the world is recognized and appropriately rewarded for the value they provide to our aging society, we can also ensure that quality care can be achievable for all,” said Francesca Colombo, Head of the Health Division at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “Further, as we make the caregiving profession more attractive, we will subsequently uplift families, health systems and economies by alleviating family caregiving burden, mitigating healthcare costs and fueling a job creation engine. In their new report, the Global Coalition on Aging and Home Instead have called out the conversation we need to be having about the future of care and the future of work, and we at the OECD look forward to working toward solutions, together”
Achieving these solutions requires care providers across sectors to recognize this pivotal moment and act on report recommendations.
“At Home Instead, we are using the findings of this report to examine our own organization and increase our commitment to elevating the global caregiving workforce of the future,” said Huber. “We are putting our stake in the ground, and we encourage other leaders and stakeholders to collaborate with us and build up the caregiving profession, so it is recognized for the value it provides society. It will take all of us.”
In that spirit of collaboration, GCOA is committed to leading conversations with a diverse group of global stakeholders to address each of the recommended actions outlined in the report, facilitating an ongoing dialogue that can lead to meaningful action for change.For a full copy of Building the Caregiving Workforce Our Aging World Needs, visit GlobalCoalitionOnAging.com.