Image of male nurse pushing senior woman in a wheelchair in nursing facility

Organized labor groups will need to collaborate with non-union direct care workers in order for the eldercare workforce to meet the significant needs of an aging population, experts contend.

“There remains enormous distrust between organized labor and much of the rest of the eldercare community,” Steven L. Dawson said in a recently published paper. “We acknowledge that there is a whole lot of history there, but any hope that the field can make systemic progress on workforce issues — particularly direct-care workforce issues — without thoughtful cooperation between organized labor and other advocates seems fruitless,” Dawson added.

According to Lisa A. Rill, Ph.D, a research associate at the Claude Pepper Center at Florida State University, demand for direct-care workers will outpace their supply. The government estimates that that people needing long-term care services jump from 15 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050. Yet one challenge is that the government is such a large source of long-term care revenue, Rill noted.

The paper, which was excerpted from a talk given at the 2012 Annual Conference of the American Society on Aging, was published in the August issue of the Annals of Long-Term Care.