“In a comprehensive report entitled Getting to 2025: A Senior Living Roadmap, Argentum, one of the nation’s leading senior living associations, cited ‘workforce development’ as the number one issue critical to the future of senior living,” notes Cambridge Realty Capital Companies Chairman Jeffrey Davis. The report, which was compiled after in-depth research and consultation with senior living stakeholders across the US, lists a total of five challenges that will affect the quality of senior living across all different platforms (independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing care). Besides workforce development, other critical issues include quality improvement, operational excellence, consumer choice and memory care.
A staff of qualified, highly-trained and skilled professionals is the backbone of any quality senior living facility. Without a committed and competent staff in place, it is difficult or impossible to address other issues senior living faces in the coming decade, which is why workforce development tops Argentum’s list. “Among other findings, the report indicates that ‘the senior living industry will need to hire 1.2 million new employees to serve the increasing number of older adults becoming senior living residents and to replace existing workers who will leave their jobs,'” Davis points out. This number takes into account the wave of baby boomers who are entering their senior years over the coming decade.
As part of Argentum’s commitment to promoting the development of a competent workforce of senior living staff, it is seeking to support the industry through five imperatives: supporting licensing and enforcement, advocating for state regulatory reform, participating in the healthcare continuum, encouraging innovation and developing industry standards.
Ecumen, another non-profit organization dedicated to quality senior living services, recently wrapped up a two-year study examining the effectiveness of a number of different workforce development endeavors. One of the goals of this study was to address the problem of staffing shortages throughout the senior living industry. Ecumen, which operates more than 70 senior living facilities throughout several states, has experienced staffing shortages in its own facilities at various times over the years. In fact, it has had to turn away applicants because there simply were not enough staff to properly care for them.
With organizations like Argentum and Ecumen actively pursuing solutions for challenges facing senior living in the future, Cambridge Chairman Davis is enthusiastic about the prospects for seniors looking for a place to spend their golden years. Whether it’s in an independent living setting or a skilled nursing or memory care facility, Davis believes that the future is bright for all stakeholders, from facility developers to the people who will eventually live in one of these facilities.