LeadingAge Reinforces Calls for Investing in Aging Services Infrastructure & Workforce

PRESS RELEASE | July 13, 2021 | by Lisa Sanders

“It’s time for our elected officials to listen to care workers, caregivers, older adults, and Americans from both parties and act now to support older adults.”

Contact: Lisa Sanders
lsanders@leadingage.org 202-508-9407

July 13, 2021, Washington, DC—As care workers, consumers and advocates rally on the capitol and in states across the country today, LeadingAge reiterated its call for Congress to pass President Biden’s proposed historic investments in home and community-based services as well as in affordable housing—supported by large majorities of Americans from both parties—and to take vital steps to rebuild the aging services infrastructure older Americans desperately need.

Without permanent solutions and adequate investments, the U.S. simply will not be able to continue providing high-quality services and support to our rapidly growing older population.

“The COVID pandemic has made it clearer than ever that America does not have the infrastructure for aging services that we need. Too many older adults can’t access the services needed to remain at home, and millions of family members and friends are struggling to balance the demands of caring for loved ones,” said Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, the association of nonprofit providers of aging services. “It’s time for our elected officials to listen to care workers, caregivers, older adults and Americans from both parties and act now to support older adults.”

“Care professionals are the heart of aging services,” added Sloan. “Our country must invest to build the sustainable workforce of nursing assistants, personal care aides, and home health aides that our nation needs to ensure better care for millions of older Americans.”

Recent Research

  • LeadingAge and researchers at the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston recently released “Feeling Valued Because They are Valued,” a long-range vision for reimagining America’s professional direct care workforce across long-term care settings. The vision is built on six strategies: expanding the caregiver pipeline, strengthening education and training, facilitating career advancement, increasing compensation, preparing universal workers, and reforming the long-term services and supports (LTSS) financing system.
  • The National Skills Coalition (NSC) and Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU) also recently released a five-point policy proposal from its Healthcare Industry Recovery Panel -- including expanding access to Pell grants and increasing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates -- that responds to the growing demand for direct and allied healthcare workers. Robyn Stone, Senior Vice President, Research, LeadingAge, and Co-Director, LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, served on the 15-member panel of leading experts from across the country.
  • Likewise, older Americans face economic, social, and racial inequities that all impact their ability to access critical aging services. LeadingAge’s Blueprint for a Better Aging Infrastructure is a series of recommendations that address these inequities by expanding access to long-term care at home and in our communities; increasing affordable housing for older adults; investing in the physical and technological infrastructure of aging services—including high-speed broadband access; and addressing the fundamental need to better support and grow our aging services workforce.

New Polling Resources

Americans also agree on this urgent need for investment. Polling commissioned by LeadingAge shows that overwhelming majorities of Americans from both parties want the government to step up with investments and leadership to properly serve America’s older adults amid this growing crisis—and they believe that should happen now. Key findings from the survey, fielded June 2021, include:

1. Americans agree that now is the time to focus on our nation’s older adults.

  • 85% of Americans agree that now is the right time to think about building a better aging services system for our seniors.
    • 91% of Democrats, 83% of Independents and 80% of Republicans agree now is the time to think about building a better system for seniors.
    • Support is nearly consistent regardless of where Americans live, with 85% of urban Americans, 87% of suburban Americans, and 82% of rural Americans agreeing.  
  • Nearly one in five Americans say the President and Congress should be focused on improving care and services for seniors as a priority in the next few months.

2. Support for greater investment in services for older adults is overwhelming and bipartisan.

  • 86% say the government must make a bigger investment in services and care for seniors. This includes 92% of Democrats, 80% of Republicans, and 84% Independents. 

3. Americans overwhelmingly support the proposed investments for older adults that are currently on the table.

  • 89% of Americans support public investment in affordable home care services to help older adults with essential needs like bathing and dressing, medication management, transportation, and basic daily chores.
  • 86% support public investment in housing and support for low-income older adults to address the shortage and waiting lists that lead to homelessness, instability, and skipping meals and medicine to pay rent.
  • 83% support public investment in broadband internet to ensure equitable access for older adults who need this basic utility for telehealth and other care services, and to fight social isolation.

4. The public believes that care and services like those currently proposed by the President and Congress are a basic right, and that the government plays a critical role in fulfilling society’s obligation to ensure they are available.

  • 85% of Americans agree that every American has a right to receive a basic level of housing, healthcare, and essential support regardless of age.
    • Regardless of political party affiliation support is robust: 92% of Democrats, 85% of Independents, and 75% of Republicans agree. 
  • 91% of Americans agree that older Americans should have the support and resources they need to lead a fulfilling life.
    • Support is strong regardless of political party affiliation, with 93% of Democrats, 92% of Independents, and 88% of Republicans agreeing.
  • 89% of Americans agree that the government has an important role in ensuring that seniors are taken care of.
    • This sentiment is nearly unanimous regardless of where people live, with 92% of Americans in urban settings, 90% suburban, and 83% rural agreeing. 
  • Only 22% of Americans think the amount of money we spend on older people is too high. This includes 14% of Republicans, 13% of Independents, and 31% of Democrats. 

5. Americans say older adults are not treated well in the United States and that elected officials have failed them.

  • More than half of all Americans say that older adults are not treated well in the United States.
  • 83% of Americans say that elected officials have failed older adults and the people who care for them by ignoring and underfunding America's aging services for decades. The gaps and shortcomings of our government's system have created unnecessary hardship and struggle for too many families who cannot access or afford the care they need.
    • This sentiment is consistent across locales, with 85% of Americans in rural settings, 83% in urban settings, and 83% in suburban areas agreeing.
About LeadingAge:

We represent more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services providers and other mission-minded organizations that touch millions of lives every day. Alongside our members and 38 state partners, we use applied research, advocacy, education, and community-building to make America a better place to grow old. Our membership encompasses the entire continuum of aging services. We bring together the most inventive minds in the field to lead and innovate solutions that support older adults wherever they call home. For more information visit leadingage.org.

About LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston: The LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston conducts research to help our nation address the challenges and seize the opportunities associated with a growing older population. LeadingAge and the University of Massachusetts Boston established the LTSS Center in 2017. We strive to conduct studies and evaluations that will serve as a foundation for government and provider action to improve quality of care and quality of life for the most vulnerable older Americans. The LTSS Center maintains offices in Washington DC and Boston, MA. For more information, visit LTSSCenter.org.