On 12 February, I participated in – The Untapped Resource: Older Persons in the World of Work – a session organized by the United Nation’s NGO Committee on Ageing.  This programme was held as “side event” in conjunction with the 46th Session of the U.N.’s Commission for Social Development (which concludes today in New York).On behalf of IAHSA, Dr. Robyn Stone, Executive Director of the Institute for the Future of Aging Services/IFAS (co-located with IAHSA in Washington, DC) gave the session’s keynote presentation.

Robyn’s presentation – The Geriatric LTC Workforce: Challenges & Opportunities for Older Persons – was extremely well received and a number of her points particularly resonated with me and my colleagues in attendance:

·        We are currently experiencing a great crisis in the recruitment and retention of the geriatric workforce (especially in regards to the frontline caregivers) that will only get worse as population ageing has made long-term care one of the fastest growing sectors in our economy.

·        While a significant percentage of the frontline workforce is already comprised of persons aged 50+, many older informal caregivers become “hooked” on this role and become professional caregivers once their responsibilities to their loved ones end.

·        Many older persons want to continue working in order to keep active and engaged, while other older persons must stay in the workforce out of economic necessity.

Robyn offered the following strategies regarding older persons as part of the long-term care and employment solution:

§         Technologies to help retain quality older staff (e.g. reducing physical burden)§         Work redesign (e.g. job sharing options)§         Retired physicians, nurses, administrators as volunteer mentors/coaches for younger staff§         Retired geriatric professionals as educators in colleges, universities, trade schools§         Retired CNAs, home health and home care aides as trainers for new direct care workers and family caregivers§         Second careers for older persons§         Family caregivers as formal providersIAHSA will keep you posted on our continuing collaborations with Robyn and IFAS on long-term care workforce issues! For more on IFAS’s research visit http://www.futureofaging.org/.

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