Mason City discusses the future of elderly care

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MASON CITY, Iowa - Assisted living is a service we may all face at some point and Thursday’s panel discussion is helping to bring more caregivers to the field.

Experts in elderly care say not only is there a demand for more qualified direct care professionals but there needs to be a better way to certify them.

Today’s discussion in Mason City included a panel of experts as well as stories shared by consumers who say there needs to be a standardized system for all caregivers.

“Iowa has a large aging population. We know that baby boomers are reaching ages now where they maybe needing services in their homes. We also know that more and more people with disabilities receive services in their homes and communities,” said Erin Drinnin said Project Manager, Direct Core Workforce Initiative.

It’s a career, that needs qualified employees to fill open positions.

The problem is a shortage of caregivers in the assisted living field.

In 2013 there are now 75,000 direct care professionals, but to meet demand, 95,000 will be needed by 2020.

“They’re out numbering the professionals that care for them and so we need some more standardized testing and statewide just to keep everybody on the same page on how to care for people,” said Becky Johnson with the Mitchell Co. Home Health Care.

“What the initiative is trying to do is develop training that is standard and trains people in a variety of areas to work with lots of different people and lots of different settings and it does give some assurance to both those who are served as well as employers,” said Drinnin.

By combining a core curriculum with specialized training, experts say this can be the first step in making sure there is quality care for everyone, at any age.

“Every Iowan deserves good quality core and if we can give that through the testing through the state of Iowa, that’s what we need to do,” said Johnson.

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