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Even as there is a high demand for long-term care, providers are facing challenges in recruiting workers

Culix Wibonele (Via John Tucker/Shutterstock)

Culix Wibonele’s initial job in long-term care posed significant challenges beyond just avoiding injury.

Originally from Kenya, Wibonele began working as a certified nursing assistant in Atlanta in 2014. Her duties involved visiting the homes of predominantly elderly clients, assisting them with daily tasks such as bathing and cooking. Wibonele often worked independently and faced the physical strain of lifting clients much larger than herself.

The job was demanding and paid only $9 per hour without any benefits. Were it not for her second job as a babysitter and her husband’s income, supporting their four children would have been impossible.

“My paycheck was practically nothing,” Wibonele recalled. “I was shocked by the amount of work we were expected to do compared to the pay we received.”

Culix Wibonele (Via John Tucker/Shutterstock)

Wibonele’s experience mirrors broader challenges within the long-term care workforce. Workers in settings like private homes and assisted living facilities across the U.S. contend with low wages and the constant risk of injury. This situation coincides with a nationwide shortage of staff, as highlighted in a joint investigation by CNHI News and The Associated Press into America’s long-term care sector.

Meanwhile, demand for these workers is increasing as the population ages. By 2030, an estimated 20% of the U.S. population will be 65 or older, a demographic trend projected to continue growing, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“It’s a widespread issue that affects the entire country,” remarked Dr. Stephen Crystal, director of the Rutgers Center for Health Services Research. “Nearly every facility is operating with inadequate staffing levels.”

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