This working paper offers an overview of the long-term care workforce and reviews country responses to a growing demand for workers. This working paper offers an overview of the long-term care (LTC) workforce and reviews country responses to a growing demand for LTC workers.
In the context of ageing societies, the importance of long-term care is growing in all OECD countries. In 2005, long-term care expenditure accounted for slightly over 1% of GDP across OECD countries, but this is projected to reach between 2% and 4% of GDP by 2050 (Oliveira Martins et al., 2006). Spending on long-term care as a share of GDP rises with the share of the population that is over 80 years old, which is expected to triple from 4 per cent to 11-12 per cent between 2005 and 2050.
In addition to ageing, there are other factors likely to affect future spending. Trends in severe disability among elderly populations across 12 OECD countries for which data are available do not show a consistent sign of decline (Lafortune and Balestat, 2007), while the number of elderly that need assistance in carrying out activities of daily living is also growing. Meanwhile, societal changes – notably possible reductions in the importance of informal care due to rising labour market participation by women and declining family size, as well as growing expectations for more responsive, quality health and social-care systems – are creating pressures to improve value for money in long-term care systems. These factors add pressures on the workforce of this highly labour-intensive sector. Adding to this are the difficulties in attracting and retaining caregivers to a physically and mentally gruelling profession.