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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/.

Keeping quality front line staff is a constant challenge to ageing service providers all over the world – especially challenging is finding the right mix of incentives and training.

Recent research in the US shows that development of career ladders and other training initiatives has a number of positive outcomes:

  • Improved communication, between and among staff and residents
  • Increase in clinical skills
  • Increased and improved teamwork
  • Increased self-esteem and self-confidence among staff
  • Improvement in recruitment and retention numbers

There were implementation challenges facing organizations, including the need for language training, providing staff coverage during training, and translation of training into practice.

This project, through funding by the Commonwealth Corporation, was conducted by the Institute for the Future of Aging Services [IFAS] and the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, was 18-month qualitative evaluation of the Extended Care Career Ladder Initiative, a program of the Massachusetts Nursing Home Quality Initiative.

IFAS is continually doing quality research on issues related to the long term care workforce. You should bookmark their Web site.

This year we at IAHSA are particularly well positioned to look forward to spring by connecting with colleagues at IAHSA’s Second European Conference – Our Future: Quality Ageing Services – in Vienna, Austria, 22-23 May. While this programme is devoted to sustaining, enhancing and expanding ageing services, and the formal presentations will be top notch, I think that the programme structure and networking opportunities will once again be the features that participants end up valuing most.

IAHSA education programmes emphasize shared learning and our European Conferences are structure with facilitated roundtable discussion groups. We aim to create educational environments that enable participants from diverse backgrounds to share with and learn from one another’s real-life, hands-on experiences. Our guiding programme principles include:

  • Interactive Participation: exercises that involve the learner and facilitate inter-personal exchanges to stimulate collective observation and thought.
  • Problem-Solving: activities that encourage inquiry, reflection and exploration of a common challenge or opportunity.
  • Blended Models: approaches that combine a variety of events and learning delivery methods to develop applicable skills over time.
  • Relationship-Building: discussions that generate possibilities for fellowship, collaboration and action.

I hope that you will agree with IAHSA that the best way to ensure Quality Aged Services and a better future for our elders is to advance the field by sharing our collective wisdom and experiences. With this in mind, I invite you to join us at IAHSA’s Second European Conference – please visit the Web site to register for Vienna!

About this blog

IAHSA’s Global Ageing Network Blog was created because of you!! We got your message loud and clear – “Provide us with a quick and nimble communications vehicle so we can stay connected and create community across borders".

Questions? Email us at iahsa@leadingage.org.

Authors

Virginia Nuessle, Study Tour Director

Majd Alwan, Director, CAST

Alla Rubinstein, Program Administrator, IAHSA

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