Demand for nurses to care for persons with long-term disabilities is 40 percent higher than the number of workers available.
The advances in medicine mean that people with long-term disabilities are able to live fuller lives and for longer than ever before. This in turn indicates that more nurses are required to work with them, and this is having an enormous impact on nursing numbers today.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 60 to 85 percent of the worldwide population doesn’t engage in physical activities, and highlights that this is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. This, added to the ever growing elderly population, means that the demand for nurses will continue to grow.
There’s a large discrepancy in the amount of people requiring this care, and the nurses available to provide it, therefore it's vital that more people attend nursing school. The only way to recruit more nurses is to train them, and that’s why nursing school is crucial.
Long term care nursing is a speciality that allows nurses to work with patients, outside the hospital, who have long term or chronic illnesses. This allows for a holistic and varied nursing career, and nurses working in this sector are able to provide everything their patients need to have a good quality of life.
This sector is a brilliant place to be a nurse, as it allows you to build a close relationship with your patients and play a role in improving their lives. You’ll not only provide them with the medications and nursing care they require, but you can also offer them friendship and company which is priceless for both them, and yourself.
Why is there a growing need
for long-term nursing care worldwide?
It’s apparent that the demand for nursing within the private sector is rapidly increasing, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that there’ll be a much higher call for nurses in the long term care sector, in particular. As nurses, it’s important that we are fully prepared to meet these demands as they come.
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), around 69 percent of the United States population needs long term care services for an average of three years. This number will continue to grow as the years go on, meaning the amount of nurses needed will also grow at a similar rate.
Elderly people, or people with disabilities, are increasingly becoming more dependent on long term care within the community. There are several reasons for this, such as:
- People are living longer, so the number of elderly individuals is increasing
- Advancements in medicine mean that most disabilities are managed much better out of hospital
- Families want their loved ones to receive the best possible care
- Institutions are putting more money into privately run, long-term care facilities to meet the ever-growing demand
- Federal legislation is changing to ensure more long-term care facilities are available to meet the needs of the population
- The aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic left more people with long-term illnesses or disabilities
How is this expected to change over the next few decades?
Over the next 5 years, with insurance premiums increasing, Americans could be paying nearly double the amount they paid at the start of 2020. With many people having no other choice but to pay the high premiums, it’s likely the demand for long-term care will grow, as people will make use of the insurance.
The long-term care required in any country largely depends on the health status of the general population, as well as the standards of healthcare, and the economic and social experiences within the country.
One of the largest nations in the world, the United States, was hit massively by the COVID-19 pandemic, and despite remaining one of the top economies, we, like every other country, have taken a huge hit.
By 2030, it’s estimated that the number of people living with dementia or Alzheimer’s will more than double, and since the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people with long-term complications, this could possibly rise even higher.
Estimates state that by 2050, 52 percent of people over the age of 65 will need some type of long-term care services, each for an average of 2 years.
But what does this mean for nurses? The World Health Organization recently reported that due to the pandemic, the world will need 6 million more nurses by 2030 to ensure the healthcare of sick individuals.
The United Nations highlights the importance of investment in the training of nurses, as well as better pay, and a focus on creating a smaller gender pay gap.
They also reported that many countries are failing to train enough of their own nurses, and the number of graduates will need to increase by 8 percent per year to meet this shortfall. They project that the Americas will need 43 percent more nurses than are currently available within 10 years.
Although most countries have professional organizations to regulate and monitor nursing, the WHO says better leadership is needed to meet these demands.
Why are more states going to require an increase in nurses providing long term care?
The COVID-19 pandemic took the lives of many residents and healthcare staff within long term care facilities. This tragedy highlights many problems in care homes and community care facilities, such as lack of resources, overcrowding, and too few nurses.
It’s estimated that 34.2 million Americans have provided unpaid care to an adult over 50 in the past year, 15.7 of these to people with Alzheimer’s or dementia. In total, this crisis costs around $470 billion. This short-term care solution isn’t sustainable, with the people providing this unpaid care needing to return to work to make ends meet.
These issues are now at the forefront of lawmakers’ agendas, and are going to be a focus for most states in the coming years. People are calling on state senators to make care homes safe, more efficient, and improve the residents’ quality of life.
To do this, lawmakers are encouraged to put more money into recruiting nurses and doctors, and reducing health inequalities among people of color and those from poorer backgrounds. To ensure the safety of those living in long-term care facilities, recruitment of both nurses and nursing students will increase.
The WHO highlights the crucial role governments play in investing in nursing education, saying that we can’t keep covering shortfalls by recruiting nurses from other countries, as is current practice.
One in eight nurses currently works in a different country to that in which they trained, and this means that less developed countries are struggling all the more. The organization recommends that we fund the training of nurses in the countries from which we recruit, to ensure other countries don’t suffer accordingly.
The ideal option, highlighted by both the UN and the WHO, is to invest time and money in the recruitment and education of student nurses, so that as the world progresses, the nursing profession can keep up.
Key stakeholders must take this advice and use funds wisely to ensure that the nurse-to-patient discrepancy narrows, not widens. Once the number of student nurses is at an acceptable level, the lawmakers and stakeholders should then focus on nurturing the development of these new nurses.
For nurses who worked throughout the pandemic, the profession might not seem as appealing as it once did, and the number of nurses needing to take time away from work is at a record high. To retain the nurses we have, there needs to be a focus on the wellbeing and nourishment of these nurses, including access to mental health services.
Only then can we focus on the development of the nursing role in the post pandemic world.
Why are more people choosing private, long-term health care?
Private care is becoming more popular, as the advantages are increasingly appealing. People are more likely to choose private care for a variety of reasons, such as:
- Faster referral times
- More choice regarding doctors, hospitals, treatments and care plans
- One-to-one nursing is more common
- Increased privacy
- People can often receive more up-to-date technology and medical care
- More employers offer private healthcare packages
In countries such as the United States, healthcare insurance is an extremely important part of life, and many people have little choice other than private healthcare when they require it. Although private healthcare has its perks, such as those highlighted above, it won’t remain the same if the amount of nurses continues to fall.
What are the benefits for nurses working in long-term care and the private sector?
The potential increase in funding for long-term care homes is likely to be hugely beneficial for nurses, as well as patients, for many reasons:
- More money is being spent, meaning better wages for nurses working in the long term and private sector. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the median wage for nurses is $64,700, increasing to $67,000 for long-term care nurse managers.
- More nurses means that one-to-one care is more likely. This lessens the stress on the nurses working in care homes as they won’t need to juggle so many patients at once.
- Nurses will be able to provide better care, and will develop closer relationships with their patients.
- More job opportunities will be available, and the potential for career progression will increase
- The mental health and wellbeing of nurses will improve, as the demands of day-to-day nursing care will decrease. Nurses will be able to afford more comfortable lives as a result.
There are many factors that affect the ever-growing need for nurses in care homes, and above all else, we can be sure that this demand for more long-term nurses will continue.