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    Local Home Health Companies May Need More Migrant Workers to Meet Elderly Care Demand

    2024-04-09
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    The increasing elderly population in America is driving a high demand for long-term care workers. It is estimated that there will be around 900,000 job openings in this sector. As the country nears a point where one-fifth of its population will be over 65, the majority will need long-term care, either at home or in nursing homes. However, the industry is struggling with a shortage of workers, prompting many companies to consider hiring more migrant workers.

    David Voepel, CEO of the Arizona Health Care Association, acknowledges the challenges of long-term care work. He likens it to the agricultural sector, where there is a shortage of U.S.-born workers, leading to a dependence on migrant workers. The association is actively recruiting migrants for caregiving roles, including asylum seekers.

    Chingeneye Nyilabageni, a 22-year-old refugee from Uganda, is one such recruit training to become a certified nursing assistant. While many migrants show interest in healthcare training, only a few are legally permitted to work in the U.S. This includes some refugees, but not most individuals who enter the country illegally.

    Robert Espinoza, CEO of the National Skills Coalition, calls for a change in this policy. He proposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers already in the U.S. who are willing to support this sector. In 2023, Espinoza conducted a study predicting that the long-term care sector would need to fill 9.3 million job openings by 2031. He also suggested a special caregiver visa for direct care workers.

    However, these proposals face considerable challenges, especially in an election year when border crossings are high and there is support for expanding the border wall with Mexico. If the country cannot fill the numerous long-term care jobs, family members will likely have to take on elder care. Research indicates this can significantly affect their earning potential, particularly for women.

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