How To Meet The Demand For Home Health Care Workers Through eLearning

Meeting The Demand For Home Health Care Workers Through eLearning

Aside from the teaching of history, educators everywhere are focused on preparing the next generation for the future. What happens when successive generations begin to shrink though? That is precisely the situation in many parts of the world today. Average life expectancies are higher than ever before, as birth rates in developed countries continue to fall. That means that the next educational frontier is going to be all about training the workforce that's needed to care for aging populations.

In the United States, it's a massive challenge. The Bureau of Labor Statistics currently predicts 41% growth in the labor market for home health and personal health aides by 2025. That translates to roughly 1.2 million new positions in that field alone over the next 7 years. To keep ahead of that type of demand is going to require the education system to become laser-focused on healthcare training and certification right away, and they're going to have to rely heavily on eLearning platforms to make it work. It's already happening in some other parts of the world, and they could serve as a model of how the U.S. might approach the challenge. Here's a look at an excellent example, and what barriers prevent the U.S. from emulating it.

A Similar Situation

There is another developed country that is already taking steps to confront the educational challenges of an aging population, and whose demographic situation compares well to that of the United States. As of today, 15% of Australia's population is 65 or older, and that figure will reach 20% by 2047. Those numbers roughly mirror the situation in the United States, where the over-65 population stood at 15.2% as of 2016 and is expected to rise to 22.1% by 2050. The Australian government has responded to the looming labor shortage by increasing their support for and focusing on vocational training.

The TAFE System

Their response so far has been centered on the country's array of technical and further education (TAFE) institutions, which provide a variety of vocational training to citizens. Those institutions are directly owned and supported by the regional governments in Australia, which allows for a direct and immediate response to any pending educational deficits. Through these institutions, interested students can access TAFE aged care courses online that will prepare them to fill the needed healthcare positions in the coming years. Providing this type of educational support is encouraging students from all over the country to enter the home healthcare field. Since many of the classes are provided through distance learning and online platforms, TAFE institutions are seeing a spike in enrollments nationwide.

A Lack Of Centralized Response

In the United States, there is no similar government-run vocational training system. As a result, much of the development of programs to train needed home healthcare workers are being left to private institutions. In addition, there are no standardized certification requirements for home healthcare workers. The required level of training varies from state to state, with the only federal requirement being that any home healthcare workers that are paid with funds from Medicare or Medicaid must complete a 75-hour training course and 16 supervised training hours.

Online Training Available

Despite the lack of standardization, eLearning companies in the U.S. have already developed some programs for students. There are such companies today, and they have created an entire range of programs and materials that meet the individual requirements of the states for home healthcare workers. They do offer certification programs, but due to the nature of the healthcare system in the U.S., many of them are voluntary and merely help home healthcare professionals when they are seeking employment.

The Need For Action

Despite the fact that Australia's situation appears to be so similar to that of the U.S., it is clear that they are far ahead in terms of meeting the challenges posed by their aging population. They're making very effective use of eLearning technology to expand access to training programs nationwide, which is increasing the number of potential new home healthcare workers in their local market. It's a model that the U.S. would do well to copy if they are ever able to overcome the limitations of their current fragmented system. Failure to do so will result in potentially disastrous consequences, and they don't ever have to come to pass.