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Eldercare Workforce Alliance to Address the Critical Shortage of Healthcare Workers Capable of Meeting the Needs of Older Adults

Resource type: News

Eldercare Workforce Alliance |

The Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA) — a new coalition of 25 leading organizations representing older adults and the eldercare workforce, including family caregivers, healthcare professionals, and direct-care workers — is holding its founding meeting this week in Washington, D.C. This wide array of national organizations has joined together to address the critical shortage of health care providers and caregivers who are adequately prepared to meet the unique care needs of older adults. To accomplish this, the Alliance supports programs to increase workforce capacity, strengthen workers’ competencies, and improve coordination of care.

The Alliance was formed in direct response to a groundbreaking report released in the spring of 2008 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which concluded that America’s eldercare workforce is dangerously understaffed and unprepared to care for the rapidly growing number of older adults in the U.S.

The IOM report, Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce, explained that by 2030, the number of Americans 65 or older will nearly double to 77 million, and roughly 20 percent of these adults will have five or more chronic health problems. At the same time, there are serious anticipated shortfalls across the eldercare workforce of professionals and direct care workers.

“Eldercare is projected to be the fastest-growing employment sector in the healthcare industry, and strengthening these caregiving fields is essential to quality of care for older adults in America and may also drive long-term employment and economic growth,” said Alice H. Hedt, who was named EWA Project Director during the Alliance’s D.C. meeting.

Further limiting older Americans’ access to quality of care, both direct-care workers and the family caregivers who provide countless hours of care are inadequately trained and prepared, according to the IOM report.

In immediate response to the eldercare workforce crisis, the Alliance is proposing to:

  • Strengthen the direct-care workforce through better training, supervision and improved compensation; 
  • Address clinician and faculty shortages, through incentives such as loan forgiveness, increased public funding for training, and better compensation; 
  • Ensure a competent workforce by encouraging agencies and organizations that certify and regulate the eldercare workforce to require demonstrated and continued competence; and 
  • Redesign health care delivery by adopting cost-effective care coordination models. 

“EWA’s goal is to develop practical solutions that will build a caring and competent workforce providing high-quality, culturally sensitive, person-directed, and family-focused care for America’s elders,” said Ms. Hedt, who has more than 25 years of experience designing, advocating for, and implementing innovative eldercare programs. Most recently she was the Executive Director of NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

The Alliance will be partnering with older adults and their family members as well as national organizations to work with the Obama Administration and Congress to effect changes that improve health care and care for America’s elders. The Atlantic Philanthropies and the John A. Hartford Foundation provided funds for the development of the Alliance, and Atlantic has committed one million dollars for Alliance activities.

To highlight the importance of strengthening both the professional health care workforce and the direct-care workforce, EWA has appointed Steven L. Dawson, president of PHI, and Nancy Lundebjerg, Chief Operating Officer of the American Geriatrics Society, co-conveners of the Alliance. PHI is a national nonprofit working to improve the quality of eldercare and disability services by supporting quality jobs for direct-care workers. The American Geriatrics Society is a national nonprofit that brings together health professionals devoted to improving the health, independence and quality of life of all older people.

About the Eldercare Workforce Alliance

The Eldercare Workforce Alliance is a group of 25 national organizations, joined together to address the immediate and future workforce crisis in caring for an aging America. The Alliance is a Project of the Tides Center and the Tides Advocacy Fund. Alliance members believe that:

  • An essential step in addressing our fragmented health and long-term care system is to adopt care models that provide well-coordinated, person-directed and family-focused services across settings. 
  • All unpaid caregivers — including family, friends and other caregivers–should be supported and have opportunities to acquire the needed skills, knowledge, and information to care appropriately for older adults. 
  • Resolving the workforce crisis requires addressing recruitment, retention, training and compensation issues across the direct-care and professional health care workforce — which is essential to improve the quality of care and quality of life for older adults. 

About The Atlantic Philanthropies

The Atlantic Philanthropies are dedicated to bringing about lasting changes in the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Atlantic makes grants through its four programme areas – Ageing, Children & Youth, Population Health, and Reconciliation & Human Rights – and through Founding Chairman grants. Programmes funded by Atlantic operate in Australia, Bermuda, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United States and Viet Nam. To learn more, please visit:

About the John A. Hartford Foundation

Founded in 1929, the John A. Hartford Foundation is a committed champion of training, research and service system innovations that promote the health and independence of America’s older adults. Through its grantmaking, the Foundation seeks to strengthen the nation’s capacity to provide effective, affordable care to this rapidly increasing older population by educating “aging-prepared” health professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers), and developing innovations that improve and better integrate health and supportive services. The Foundation was established by John A. Hartford. Mr. Hartford and his brother, George L. Hartford, both former chief executives of the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, left the bulk of their estates to the Foundation upon their deaths in the 1950s. Additional information about the Foundation and it programs is available on our Web site



— Alzheimer’s Association

— American Academy of Nursing

— American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry

— American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging

— American Geriatrics Society

— American Medical Association

— American Medical Directors Association

— American Nurses Association

— American Psychological Association

— American Society of Consultant Pharmacists

— American Society on Aging

— Coalition of Geriatric Nursing Organizations

— Council on Social Work Education

— Direct Care Alliance

— Family Caregiver Alliance

— Gerontological Society of America

— National Alliance for Caregiving

— National Council on Aging

— National Hispanic Council on Aging

— NCCNHR: The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-term Care

— NCB Capital Impact/THE GREEN HOUSE(R) Project

— New York Academy of Medicine/Social Work Leadership Institute

— PHI — Visiting Nurse Associations of America

SOURCE American Geriatrics Society Copyright (C) 2009 PR Newswire. All rights reserved

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Eldercare Workforce Alliance, EWA, senior citizens