As the senior population rises, the licensed health care professionals needed to care for our seniors are dwindling. As we see more and more cases of improper care at nursing homes and elder abuse in the news, the need for proper training of health care professionals has become critical to ensure the elderly are aging with dignity. This act, introduced January of 2009 as an amendment to the Public Health Service Act, will ensure that every senior has access to quality care. I worked congresswoman Jan Schakowsky,, and the National Association of Elder Law Attorneys,, to promote this legislation on Capitol Hill.

The act emphasizes the following:

  • Expand education and training in long-term care, geriatrics and chronic care for licensed health professionals;

– Only 1 percent of all nurses are certified in geriatrics.

  • Training of home care aides; and

– Among the fastest-growing occupations; and

– Currently not subject to any federal requirements related to training.

  • Training to family caregivers.

– Estimated 44 million family caregivers in the U.S.; and

– Will develop a family caregiver training materials, including referral protocols  for families caring for Medicare beneficiaries.

This act will also amend the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 to provide information to dislocated workers and veterans about long-term care occupations and employment opportunities. As of now, the bill has been referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor but as the baby boomer generation is now reaching retirement age, we are faced with a crisis of meeting the care needs of every older American. The government needs to address this problem through redesigning, strengthening retention, educating and training the health care workforce.