Despite widespread criticism of the current presidential administration and infighting among political parties in Washington, the current political climate may bode well for the senior living industry, according to James Balda, president and CEO of national senior living industry organization Argentum.
The senior living industry has plenty of ways to curry favor with policymakers, Balda suggested during a April 26 webinar presented by senior living caregiver training and compliance solutions firm Institute for Professional Care Education (IPCed).
Job growth, for instance, will be a key talking point for the next four years—and senior living can begin to promote itself to policymakers as an industry that can help the country in that regard.
“We’ve got an opportunity really to position our industry as an engine of job creation,” Balda explained.
The issue of tax reform has also been top-of-mind for many across the country lately, Balda added. The senior housing industry, he suggested, could very well play a role in that discussion.
“What are the opportunities through tax reform for people to push for ways to save for their long-term care needs?” Balda asked.
Additionally, because the Republicans now control the presidency and both houses of Congress, the United States will begin to have a more “business-friendly” climate, Balda said.
“Certainly that will be welcome by many of our operators,” he added.
Retirees and elementary school students
The senior housing industry will need to attract 1.2 million additional employees by 2025. Luckily, plenty of providers Balda has spoken with have come up with innovative ways to appeal to potential employees.
For instance, senior living organizations can look into hiring retirees to work at their communities, Balda and IPCed CEO and co-founder Sharon Brothers agree.
The advantages of this strategy are threefold: retirees often have the desire and the availability to give back, they can more easily relate to senior living residents than younger employees and they can learn about senior living communities for themselves.
While some providers have begun to court retirees, others are planting seeds with much younger potential employees.
One operator took a “very long view” and brought its residents to elementary schools to educate young students about how fun and rewarding it can be to have a career where you care for older adults, Balda said.
In years to come, the senior care industry will be competing with the hospitality, retail and restaurant sectors for employees. The senior care industry can take some cues from the restaurant industry to make its open positions more attractive to the general U.S. population, Brothers suggested.
Chefs weren’t always highly celebrated, she noted; now, there are entire television series dedicated to their craft, like ‘Top Chef.’
“Maybe we need a ‘Top Caregiver,’ and a little glorification of this industry!” Brothers said.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson