Everyone is talking about the Global Ageing Crisis – the demographics, the cost of care, the demands on the ageing services, the impact on the environment.

IAHSA members also talk a lot about the current and soon to be devastating shortage of direct-care workers. But historically that is the one issue that many governments have avoided talking about.

Josh Wiener, a well-known author and policy analyst, calls it The Elephant in the Room. As Wiener noted in a recent interview by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute in the US, “When I talk to policymakers about the need to address the workforce, much of the reaction I get is: ‘Yes, this is going to be a big problem, and no, I don’t want to deal with it right now, thank you’. That’s why I’ve called it the Elephant in the Room – everyone knows it’s there; everyone knows it’s going to have a huge impact, but few policymakers are willing to take on what it would need to address this in a systematic fashion”.

Wiener feels that if countries are intent on improving quality of care or change the delivery system, they have to start with an adequate workforce who can provide services.

He believes that there are a number of common sense things that could be done to improve the direct-care jobs in order to find and keep the growing number of workers needed.

“The troika is basically wages and benefits, trying to change the organizational culture and providing additional training and job design – making it more into a career ladder”.

IAHSA agrees. And together with the Institute for the Future of Aging Services [IFAS], we are facilitating discussion among our global members on this important issue. That is the only way we’ll be able to let the Elephant out of the Room.

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