MONDAY, June 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- At least 2.5 million more long-term care workers will be needed to look after older Americans by 2030, a new study shows.
This demand will remain even if there is a major shift from institutional care to home care, according to the researchers.
"Even if 20 percent of elderly patients move out of nursing homes into home health care, which would be huge change, the projected increase in demand for long-term care workers would only drop from 79 percent to 74 percent," study author Joanne Spetz, a professor at the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a university news release.
"Filling these jobs will be a big challenge under any scenario," she noted. Spetz is also associate director for research strategy at the Center for the Health Professions.
Policy makers and educators need to "redouble" their efforts to recruit, train and maintain long-term care workers, the researchers said.
They noted that 20 percent of Americans will be aged 65 or older by 2030. Nineteen million adults will require long-term care by 2050. That number was just 8 million in 2000, the researchers added.
Over the next 15 years, the biggest increases in demand will be for counselors, community and social workers, and home health and personal care aides, the researchers predicted.
"In terms of sheer numbers, the greatest need is going to be for home health and personal care aides, with well over 1 million additional jobs by 2030," Spetz said.
"The challenge is that these are currently very low-paid, high-turnover, entry-level positions. A lot of people in these jobs are living in poverty while working full time. We have to figure out how to make them sustainable," she added.
The study was published in the June issue of the journal Health Affairs.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has more about long-term care.