by James Cohen
The United States is headed toward a severe caregiver shortage – both paid and unpaid – in the decades ahead. We keep hearing the foreboding statistics: 10,000 U.S. Baby Boomers turn 65 every day; population segment known as "the very old" is expected to double in the next 20 years and swell to 88 million by 2050; 75 percent of Americans over 65 live with multiple chronic health conditions, ranging from diabetes to dementia. The confluence of these demographics points to the need for an influx of in-home caregivers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that nursing assistants and home health aides are among the top 10 occupations with the greatest projected job growth in the United States, provided we can find people to fill them. One tactic that should be seen as a viable part of the solution is distance learning through online education. This is not like a fast food job. Once you find the personnel, they must be trained.
The attractiveness of virtual classrooms is that they provide a mechanism for readings, assignments, and examinations to be made available online with little to no face-to-face interaction with instructors. Online education offers students time flexibility as e-classroom access generally is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Online courses also offer geographic flexibility, eliminating the need to commute to and from school, and may provide a wider array of course offerings. Furthermore, online learning may provide a less intimidating environment, particularly for students who are shy or reluctant to participate in classroom discussions.
In addition to providing flexibility and accessibility to education for your future home health aides, existing on-line education options alleviate unnecessary costs to agencies. Have you ever calculated how much in-service costs your agency? To accurately understand the true cost of in-service education it is crucial to factor in the costs of classroom rental, hiring instructors, commuting, HR, and loss of billable hours while training is conducted. The most sensible solution for agencies would be to minimize these costs and provide current and prospective staff with an online education option.
Staying up to date with state compliance is challenging for most agencies. On-line education companies keep their content up to date with state and federal regulations, reducing the likelihood of legal complications. Reducing costs and improving compliance allow agencies to direct their resources toward caring for clients and growing their business instead of being diverted to the intricacies of in-service planning and execution.
If the supply of in-home care workers cannot keep up with the demand of an aging population, a looming national dilemma is in store for the elderly, the infirm, and the entities that hire, train, and strive to retain caregivers. Retaining them requires not only competitive pay but also attractive training and advancement opportunities. Fortunately, in a world where everything is accessible online, quality education is now within reach of even the smallest agencies on the tightest budgets.
My company, Nevvon, for example, strives to provide the highest quality mobile education. We tell our home health and home care clients, "How we build our teams and train our industry today will set the standards for how we interact in home care for generations to come. If we don't put advanced technological integrations at the forefront of our efforts, we risk reinforcing to the industry the exact inefficiencies that we so urgently need to counter."
Driving not only opportunities but tangible outcomes for adult learners, by deploying meaningful ways for them to engage in learning, is critical for recruiting and retaining within the home care industry. Accessibility to education that is available anywhere at any time is a one of the drivers for attracting new health aides. Shifting toward high quality, online, mobile education is the future of success for hiring, retaining and staying compliant within our industry.
MIT graduate James Cohen is CEO and co-founder of Nevvon, an online education company with offices in New York City. He was previously co-founder of MavenCare, a Toronto home care agency.
©2019 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. email@example.com