We support educational programs and research to help the senior living industry attract to most qualified, caring, and dedicated staff to serve older adults in senior living residences.

The Challenge: Stakeholders overwhelmingly identified skilled caregivers with a strong commitment to older people and their autonomy as key to the continued success of assisted living’s core mission.

Stakeholders noted that while basic caregiving duties can easily be taught, it is harder to instill (and promote through flexible operations) a culture of caregiving that supports older people’s individuality and personal preferences. Symposium stakeholders observed the following challenges in the areas of recruitment, training, and retention that must be addressed in assisted living for it to continue to meet its mission:

  • Workforce turnover is a growing concern – particularly for nurses – with burnout due to long hours and high job stress related to the increasing acuity of assisted living residents, resulting in an increased demand for higher wages.
  • An ongoing challenge to recruit and retain compassionate people who also have the qualifications to work in assisted living.
  • Overcoming any signs of “ageism” among personnel.
  • Increasing cultural diversity among both assisted living personnel and residents, requiring additional training at all levels of the organization.
  • A lack of tools to document, measure, and demonstrate competencies, including consistent credentialing standards.

Stakeholders’ observations are supported by recent research conducted by the National Center for Assisted Living. The study notes that the assisted living workforce is a “vital part of providing quality, person-centered care to assisted living residents,” and observes that the findings from the survey “indicate that many assisted living job positions experience a high level of turnover, including direct resident care positions.” The survey found that certified nurse assistant turnover was, on average, 33%, and non-certified resident caregivers’ turnover rate was 27%.

The Opportunity for the Center for Excellence in Assisted Living

Symposium participants recommended that effective training and toolkits should be identified or developed for all levels of assisted living staff, as well as protocols to assure that competencies are consistently maintained. Participants noted a need for a strong focus on training in all areas, including:

  • Person-centered care and environments
  • Person-centered dementia care
  • Personnel rights and responsibilities
  • Safe workplace practices
  • Reducing turnover rates

Participants emphasized that training strategies should address developing assisted living care trends, personnel shortages, increasing diversity among personnel and care recipients, staff engagement and retention, and wellness. Stakeholders were confident that assisted living outcomes can be continuously improved by creating tools to document, measure, and demonstrate competencies, including credentialing standards, and increased opportunities for personal and professional development.