What keeps business leaders in the Rochester area up at night? That they won’t have enough people to do the work.
The competition for well-educated, well-trained workers already is fierce, and it’s only going to get tougher as Destination Medical Center-related growth takes hold. In the nursing home and senior care field, the future is now. Managers of senior care facilities say they face a critical shortage of workers, and the care those workers provide isn’t optional. Those jobs must be filled.
Robots can’t do what certified nursing assistants do. There’s no algorithm or device that can help a resident eat, go to the bathroom or take a walk.
As the Post-Bulletin reported recently, the shortage of caregivers is being driven in part by growth in the business. The demographic “senior tsunami” is coming ashore here and around the country as baby boomers are retiring and moving from single-family homes into residences where care is available.
Every year, about 60,000 more Minnesotans hit the age of 65, and at the other end of the spectrum, young people aren’t entering the workforce fast enough.
“I will tell you, in the 20 years I’ve done this, staffing has been an issue,” Christine Bakke, CEO of Madonna Towers in Rochester, said. “In 20 years, this is the worst I’ve seen it.”
One issue for caregivers is pay. As the Post-Bulletin reported, the differential in pay for senior care workers and entry-level jobs in retail and restaurants is narrower than it used to be. The Legislature made modest changes in reimbursement for nursing homes in 2015 and initiated the Nursing Facility Scholarship Program to help recruit and retain employees, but more is needed.
When a person providing important personal care to elderly people makes about $14 an hour and the average in retail is not far behind, public and private agencies, including colleges, need to get involved.
Certified nursing assistants and nursing aides provide an important and specialized service. Their jobs require talent, training, energy, plenty of smiles and a big heart. All employers should look at what’s happening in caregiving and wonder, is this what it’s going to be like for us if the area continues on its current path?
Will we have enough workers ? Will our growth and viability be affected?
Will we be prepared for it?
FROM AN EDITORIAL IN THE ROCHESTER POST-BULLETIN