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Glimmer of hope for dim staffing future.

Long-term care workforce recruitment efforts improved slightly in 2002, but a dramatic increase in workers is still needed to care for the upcoming deluge of aging baby boomers, according to recent studies by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) and the federal government.

While AHCA notes that the industry is about 100,000 workers short, the situation did improve last year. AHCA's study says vacant SNF nursing positions (DONs, RNs with administrative responsibilities, staff RNs, LPNs, and CNAs) declined 15.9% from 2001 to 2002 (from approximately 114,000 to 96,000), with the greatest decrease occurring in CNA vacancies. Staff turnover rates even fell slightly for all nursing positions except DONs. Along with a slight improvement in recruiting staff RNs and LPNs, facilities reported a dramatic improvement in recruiting CNAs in 2002 over 2001: While 60% found it more difficult to recruit CNAs in 2001, only 30% of facilities found it more difficult to recruit them in 2002. AHCA cited continued marginal economic conditions and the success of efforts such as the Caregiver Jobs Clearinghouse ( as reasons for the improvement in CNA recruitment.

While these numbers are encouraging, the future challenge of staffing long-term care is still daunting. By 2050 the need in the United States will have grown to 5.7 million to 6.5 million nurses, nurse aides, and home health and personal care workers--three times more than the 1.9 million employed in 2000--says a report by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Department of Labor (DOL). To address this imbalance, DHHS and DOL recommend exploring the role of faith-based and community organizations in recruiting volunteers for family respite and caregiving; using new technology in recruitment, education, and training; encouraging state and local recruitment efforts; supporting multiple training and education initiatives, including implementation of the recently passed Nurse Reinvestment Act; reaching out to new sources of LTC workers, such as older workers and former military personnel; supporting informal caregivers through tax incentives and respite care demonstrations; exploring regulatory changes; continuing to support worker safety education and outreach; and continuing research and development of policies on wages, benefits, worker characteristics, and workplace cultures.

Visit for the AHCA report and for the federal government report.
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Title Annotation:NH News Notes
Author:Edwards, Douglas J.
Publication:Nursing Homes
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 2003
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