Labor in the Senior Housing Industry
Attracting labor in the senior housing industry has become a pressing issue. The senior housing industry currently cares for hundreds of thousands of seniors in the US every day. Not only is it a booming industry, it is one that is absolutely necessary to help senior citizens maintain their health and quality of life. Yet, there are not enough willing people to work in these healthcare properties.
With more and more seniors needing care and a robust construction cycle in play, labor issues within the senior housing industry are rising to the top. While people are living longer and longer, and with more people consuming the senior housing product, there are not enough willing caregivers for these residents. With shortfalls in staffing both skilled and un-skilled, the quality of care in the senior housing industry can suffer which everyone wants to avoid.
Operators and managers are now left with a big puzzle. Where do they find enough labor? How can they attract strong talent?
The JCH Group recently attended a round-table discussion at the American Senior Housing Association and found that this topic dominated 80 percent of the conversation. These are the possible solutions operators brainstormed during the discussion.
Solution 1: Use Migrant Workers to Staff the Senior Housing Industry
Operators in the senior housing industry have discovered that migrant workers are terrific as caregivers. In general, they have found that while natural born Americans tend to push their senior citizens to the sidelines, those hailing from other countries respect their elders more, providing them better care, time and attention. As a result, staffing senior housing facilities with migrant workers as caregivers would be a great option.
Many operators and mangers agree that this is a viable solution. However, though their attitude toward seniors might be different, there is no guarantee that migrant workers are skilled enough to deliver the quality of care needed in the senior housing industry or that they will stay working in the industry once they are in the US.
Solution 2: Create an In-House Training Program to Staff the Senior Housing Industry
The second solution calls upon the titans of the senior housing industry. By utilizing their presence, strength and capital, the largest operators can create in-house training programs.
This program aims to recruit new talent and train them to do exactly what is necessary to preserve the quality of care vital to the senior housing industry. Training programs would vary for each authority level, from caregivers to managing operators and executives. The benefit of this in-house training program is that staff members are educated down to the specifics of each position and are ready to work within the operator’s model.
Solution 3: Campaign to Change the Perception of the Senior Housing Industry
Recruitment, and therefore attracting new talent, is difficult because people do not make positive associations with the on-goings of the senior housing industry. Media often paints the senior housing industry to be negligent, messy, lazy and even abusive. Reporters fail to present all the good work achieved in the senior housing industry. As a result, people are reluctant to find work in this space.
To combat negative sentiment, operators thought of a “Got Milk” style campaign. By utilizing ads and broadcasts on television, radio, Internet and even paper, positive messages can shift people’s perception of the senior housing industry. Once negative stereotypes break, more and more people may be inclined to find work and contribute to the senior housing industry. While this tactic does not immediately attract labor or new talent, it is a long-term effort that will eventually make the staffing corrections needed to sustain the senior housing industry for the future.
Solution 4: Provide More for the Staff in the Senior Housing Industry
In reality, the solution to finding labor in the senior housing industry will be a combination of all of these proposed ideas. In addition, there are other complications attached to each solution.
For example, typically those who can afford senior housing come from wealthier areas. Housing costs and rent may be high. However, caregivers of these healthcare properties receive the lowest pay. Distant commutes and high rent would not make any economical sense for these workers, further dissuading them from taking the job.
Ideally, the senior housing industry would be able to provide housing for staff. Many in fact are already doing so by building tracts of low-incoming housing. This fixes many issues. First, low-paid staff members have a home close to work. Second, they can afford their homes and so have an incentive to commit to their jobs. Third, talent grows as employees of the senior housing industry compound their experience over time. Fourth, even the city receives a break by offering low-income housing.
It would also be beneficial if childcare services were provided on-site. This eliminates the issue of babysitters and conflicting schedules. In addition, seniors have the pleasure of being around children and youth, bringing new energy into the senior housing industry.
The Current Model of the Senior Housing Industry Needs Adjustments
Currently, the way the senior housing industry works now is top-heavy. Corporate and their executive officials wield too much influence over the everyday minutiae in the senior housing industry. Yet they are not the ones interacting with the residents on a day-to-day basis. The people who are paid the least are the ones who provide care and attention for seniors every single day wield the least influence.
Historically, when companies within the senior housing industry grow too large and too top-heavy, quality of care declines. The company devaluates. Overall, the senior housing industry suffers.
Instead, each facility in the senior housing industry should stand on its own. By giving more to the facility level staff members, they have more reasons to deliver better care and stay committed to the job. Seniors receive high quality attention and commit to their skilled nursing facility or independent living facility. Overall, the senior housing industry grows stronger.
Work with the JCH Group for Your Housing Investments
With the spotlight on the senior housing industry, it grows to be a more complicated place. Housing investments can be equally tricky.
The JCH Group leads the senior housing industry with smart senior housing investments. Our specialists are trained experts, working with buyers, sellers, operators and managers of all levels across the US.
We are confident in the work we provide in making and closing senior housing transactions. No matter what you need from the senior housing industry, the JCH Group is your best resource. To receive your free facility valuation or learn more about the labor issue, give one of our investments specialists a call.