The coronavirus pandemic has made it clearer than ever that America’s 3.5 million direct care workers are critical to our nation’s health—but that they are not valued accordingly. LeadingAge's vision for professionalizing the direct caregiving workforce sets out a path toward the sustainable, reimagined workforce of professional caregivers that our nation needs to ensure better care for millions of older Americans. Part of that vision, this study offers a glimpse into a different world—a world in which direct care workers earn at least a living wage. This groundbreaking research captures the substantial benefits that would accrue throughout our economy if direct care workers earned at least a living wage. Using publicly available data and standard economic simulation techniques, LeadingAge researchers found that higher wages would benefit not only direct care workers, but also the direct care field, care recipients, and the economies of local communities in which direct care workers live.
Specifically, higher wages would:
- Increase the financial well-being of direct care workers.
- Reduce turnover and staffing shortages within care settings.
- Boost worker productivity.
- Enhance quality of care.
- Increase overall economic growth in communities where direct care workers live.
Making Care Work Pay Materials
LeadingAge Leadership Plans
This research is strong foundation on which to build a broad action plan designed to strengthen our field by professionalizing the role of direct care workers. LeadingAge will release an action plan soon, including tacts for advocating for more government support, increasing awareness among policy makers at the state and federal levels about the widespread beneficial impact of these wage increases, promoting the importance of robust training, seeking support for programs through which direct care workers can earn career-building credentials, and envisioning new career paths that direct care workers can follow to become leaders in our field. Over the next year, LeadingAge will focus squarely on improving the lives of direct care workers, demonstrating the value of the work they do, and making it easier for you to recruit and retain skilled workers. Paying a living wage to direct care workers is a critical first step in all of that work.
Making Care Work Pay: How A Living Wage Benefits Us All Zoom Panel
On Tuesday, September 22, 2020, LeadingAge held a special panel to discuss the research impact and implication of the report's findings and solutions and next steps. Christian Weller, PhD, one of the report's authors, presented an overview of the research. President & CEO Katie Smith Sloan and Senior Vice President of Research Robyn Stone were joined by the following experts:
Panel 1: Research Impact and Implications
- Stephen Campbell, Data and Policy Analyst, PHI
- David Grabowski, Professor of Health Care Policy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School
- Jennifer M. Reckrey, MD, Associate Professor, Departments of Medicine and Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Mark Ricketts, President and CEO, National Church Residences
Panel 2: Solutions and Next Steps
- Ann Hwang, MD, Director of the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, Community Catalyst
- Hayley Gleason, PhD, MSW , Strategic Outcomes Division Director, Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing
- John Sauer, President & CEO, LeadingAge Wisconsin
- Haeyoung Yoon, Senior Policy Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance
Materials From the Event