Increasing Eldercare Workforce Compensation
Health care providers who care for older patients serve a complex, challenging population, and evidence shows that working with geriatric patients is highly satisfying. However, there are significant barriers to recruiting and retaining people in the field due, in part, to financial disincentives. The costs associated with extra years of geriatric training do not translate into additional income, and geriatric specialists tend to earn significantly less income than specialists in other areas.
Health care workers serving older adults, especially those in the direct-care workforce, have high rates of turnover. While many direct-care workers find the work for caring for frail older individuals to be rewarding, the appeal of these professions is weakened by a number of other factors including low wages, few (if any) benefits, high physical and emotional demands, and significant potential for on-the-job injury.
To meet these needs, financial incentives to increase the number of people who specialize in geriatrics, funding to attract knowledgeable faculty, and loan forgiveness and scholarships should be offered. Additionally, compensation for direct care workers should be addressed through means such as: establishing minimum standards for wages and benefits paid under public programs, and targeting reimbursements to ensure that public funds directly improve compensation for direct care workers.