Joanne Spetz, Ph.D.
Professor - UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine, and the School of Nursing
Associate Director for Research Strategy - UCSF Center for the Health Professions
Director - UCSF Health Workforce Research Center
Aging U.S. and global populations – the so-called “Silver Tsunami” – mean that an increasing number of us will require long-term care when we can no longer care for ourselves. Older adults and persons with disabilities increasingly prefer to receive long-term care (LTC) at home or in community-based settings. Is our workforce prepared to meet these growing LTC needs? To help answer this question, UCSF has been awarded one of three, multi-year Cooperative Agreements from the U.S. Bureau of the Health Professions to establish the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center (UCSF HWRC). The UCSF HWRC will focus on long-term care workforce issues, and the other new Centers will examine other workforce topics. The UCSF HWRC represents a collaboration among the Center for the Health Professions, the UCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies, and the UCSF School of Nursing. It will be led by Joanne Spetz, PhD, FAAN associate director for research strategy at the Center, and Susan Chapman, PhD, RN, FAAN a faculty affiliate of the Center.
The HWRC builds upon a long history of workforce research at the Center, including work done under a previous Cooperative Agreement with the Bureau of the Health Professions (1997 to 2006). The HWRC’s antecedent, the Center for California Health Workforce Studies (CCHWS), examined health workforce issues across all professions. Drs. Spetz and Chapman, as well as HWRC core team members Beth Mertz and Janet Coffman were part of this original research team, which produced dozens of reports and journal articles that helped to frame key health workforce issues and create policy solutions for California and other western states.
In its inaugural year, the HWRC will conduct three major studies and respond to requests for information from the Bureau of Health Professions. The first study will explore differences in training requirements for Personal Care Aides, who provide assistance to older adults and people with disabilities in their homes and in long-term care facilities. Although there are nearly one million people working in this field, there is little consistency in the training requirements across the 50 states. The second study will extend existing prediction models that forecast demand for long-term care, to understand how projected demand for different types of LTC services in the future translates to the need for LTC workers. The third study will analyze job mobility of long-term care workers, specifically examining wage differences that appear between entry and exit from this field. The analysis will identify the occupations and industries from which long-term care workers are drawn, and the fields that workers enter if they leave LTC.
The HWRC will actively engage all five of UCSF’s health profession schools, drawing from both the Center’s health workforce research experts and UCSF’s breadth of LTC health policy researchers. The Center’s expertise in understanding how the workforce contributes to improving access, increasing quality, and attaining high-value health care will be a key component of the HWRC’s work. Additional expertise will come from collaborations with colleagues from PHI (formerly, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) and The George Washington University, guided by an expert panel of LTC researchers, state and federal policy makers, with input from community advocacy groups.
Looking forward to the multiple years of research the HWRC will conduct, Dr. Spetz notes, “Health care needs for older adults and persons with disabilities are substantial. Simply managing the activities of daily living often requires ongoing care from a combination of licensed and unlicensed health workers. We believe that the demand for these workers will increase significantly in the coming years. Health policy decision-makers need tools and strategies to ensure that the U.S. has an adequate workforce to meet our long-term care needs.” Adds Dr. Chapman, “Our studies, using state-of-the-art analytics and modeling techniques, will complement the high quality research to be generated by the other Health Workforce Research Centers, and help the United States prepare for the future.”