Virtually all health care workers care for older adults to some degree. Older adults require a health care workforce with the expertise to meet their unique needs. The supply of qualified health professionals and direct care workers with adequate training to serve the needs of aging adults is declining precisely at a time when demand, due to burgeoning numbers of older adults, is increasing at an unprecedented rate. The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) landmark report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, concludes that “the education and training of the entire health care workforce with respect to the range of needs of older adults remains woefully inadequate.”
The breadth and depth of geriatrics education and training for health care professionals remains inadequate to prepare them for the health care needs of the future. In order to provide specialized, quality care for older adults, health professionals need education and training in geriatrics and gerontology. Despite some improvements, geriatric principles are still too often insufficiently represented in health care training curricula and clinical experiences focused on gerontology are not robust.
To meet these needs, the Eldercare Workforce Alliance is calling for increased investments in training the geriatrics health professions, direct-care workforce, the consumer and informal and family caregivers. As the IOM report concluded, investing in education and training is vital in meeting our nation’s responsibility to ensure that older adults will be cared for by a workforce prepared to provide high-quality care.