Our Vision for Professionalizing the Direct Care Workforce

Professional caregivers have always played an important role in aging services. With our vision for professionalizing the direct caregiving workforce, LeadingAge 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.

The challenges facing direct care professionals—at work and at home—are long-term and systemic. They must be addressed deliberately and immediately. Without permanent solutions, our nation simply will not be able to continue providing high-quality services and supports to a rapidly growing older population. 

Along with researchers at the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston, we developed six strategies for reimagining the professional direct care workforce across long-term care settings: 1) expand the caregiver pipeline, 2) strengthen education and training, 3) facilitate career advancement, 4) increase compensation, 5) prepare universal workers, and 6) reform the LTSS financing system.

This vision captured in our new paper, Feeling Valued Because They Are Valued, is part of our long-standing efforts to encourage policymakers and consumers to reexamine how they view direct care professionals and the work they do. We’re calling on all Americans to reimagine the role direct care professionals can play within our health and LTSS systems—for the good of older adults, their families, and their professional caregivers.

Feeling Valued Because They Are Valued

Related Materials

In Fall 2020, LeadingAge released a study, Making Care Work Pay, detailing groundbreaking research that captures the substantial benefits that would accrue throughout our economy if direct care workers earned at least a living wage. Dive into all our workforce-related research by visiting the LeadingAge LTSS Center @UMass Boston.

For practical advice and resources, visit the LeadingAge Center for Workforce Solutions, where we gather tools, member stories, promising practices, and more. And you can learn more about our short- and mid-range federal policy and advocacy agendas in our 2021 Policy Priorities for Workforce.

LeadingAge Leadership Plans

We will follow this vision with a broad action plan designed to strengthen our field by professionalizing the role of direct care workers. 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.