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It’s Time to Care: A Detailed Profile of America’s Direct Care Workforce (Section 1)

An overview of the direct care workforce, including how this role has evolved in response to industry trends.

Every day, nearly 4.5 million direct care workers support older adults and people with disabilities across the United States. Who are these workers? And how has their role changed over time?

It’s Time to Care: A Detailed Profile of America’s Direct Care Workforce provides a detailed overview of the direct care workforce (including key concepts and definitions), an analysis of how this role has evolved, and a statistical profile of the workforce with key demographics, socio-economic characteristics, and future employment projections.

This report is the first installment in a year-long series of reports that will examine the importance and impact of the direct care workforce. The final, comprehensive report—Caring for the Future: The Power and Potential of America’s Direct Care Workforce—will be released in January 2021.

This report series was made possible through generous support from the W. K. Kellogg Foundation and the Woodcock Foundation.

IN THE WORDS OF WORKERS

To inform the dialogue on direct care jobs, PHI spoke with workers in different parts of the country to hear their stories and ideas.

"Many CNAs do not get paid enough…You have a lot of responsibility taking care of members…when you are not earning enough money to make ends meet, many people leave to find better pay."
"It is very stressful being directly responsible for a person’s well-being. Keeping residents safe is a huge responsibility that families give us, and I take that very seriously."
"I love helping people. I used to work as a security guard and was looking for a new job. Now working as a home health aide, my job is about more than just getting a paycheck every week."

Key Takeaways

Every day, nearly 4.5 million direct care workers support older adults and people with disabilities across the U.S.
From 2018 to 2028, the long-term care sector will need to fill 8.2 million job openings in direct care.
Turnover among the direct care workforce has generally been reported at 40 to 60 percent or higher.
 
Kezia Scales, PhD
About The Author

Kezia Scales, PhD

Director of Policy Research
Kezia Scales oversees PHI’s national research strategies to effectively study the direct care workforce and its relationship to long-term care, providing an evidence base to inform public policies on this critical workforce.

Caring for the Future

Our new policy report takes an extensive look at today's direct care workforce—in five installments.

Workforce Data Center

From wages to employment statistics, find the latest data on the direct care workforce.