Iowa Braces for Direct Care Professionals Gap

September  17, 2013

The need for nursing home and home health care workers is growing dramatically, but there just aren't enough people to fill the available jobs.  The Direct Care Workforce Initiative will present solutions to the problem Wednesday at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges in Davenport.

Spokeswoman Arlinda McKeen, from the State Public Policy Group, says Iowa will need 20,000 more direct care professionals by 2020.

"There are more people living longer," said McKeen. "There are more people who are injured in accidents, have disabilities, who are also living longer. So there is simply more people."

McKeen says the turnover rate for direct care jobs is nearly 64 percent per year. She believes the best way to add and keep these employees in the workforce is to develop standardized training.

"We are all connected to direct care in some way. Pretty much every body knows somebody in a nursing home or somebody who's got a disability, or somebody who's receiving help with chores. Whether we know it or not, we're probably connected to direct care professionals. And we would like people to begin to understand a little bit better what that means for the future of our loved ones in our families, and ourselves." 

McKeen says improving training for direct care professionals is just one of the possible solutions to filling the job gap. More ideas will be discussed tomorrow beginning at 8 am at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges in Davenport. The initiative includes AARP Iowa and the Iowa Department of Public Health.