Pathway to the Future: How Workforce Development and Quality Jobs Can Promote Quality Care Conference Package. Preface

05/01/2004

Nursing aides and home health aides are two of the major occupations responsible for providing patient care of a paraprofessional nature to chronically ill, disabled, and elderly persons in nursing homes and other institutional or community-based settings as well as at home. The challenges faced by long-term care facilities in recruiting and retaining these workers have been increasing in recent years, resulting reduced services for many Americans.

Recognizing the importance of this segment of the health workforce in meeting the care needs of an increasing percentage of the population, the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis (NCHWA) in the Health Resources and Services Administration's (HRSA) Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr) has commissioned and directed this study. The study concludes that informed workforce planning is needed to document the extent of existing shortages in these occupations and thereby assist states and institutions in addressing them, as well as to assess the impact of present and future initiatives to balance supply and demand.

The comprehensive assessment presented in this report was based on a review of eight key Federal datasets, certified nursing aide registries in 45 states, and fieldwork in four states (California, Illinois, New York, and Wyoming). The fieldwork included interviews and focus groups with long-term care providers and State officials to assess both their current data collection activities and the data needed for future program and policy development. The project was guided by an expert advisory panel and interviews with leaders in the long-term care field. These efforts, along with a review of the literature, resulted in (a) confirmation that there exists a widespread shortage of long-term care paraprofessionals and (b) affirmation that the shortage is likely to be far more severe in the future. The report concludes with a series of suggested strategies for improving data collection relating to these occupations, building on existing datasets and data collection activities.

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