PA Senator to Pitch Legislation to Address Long-Term Care Workforce Challenges

Schuylkill County elected state leaders joined PHCA and caregivers at Providence Place Senior Living of Pine Grove where Senator Dave Argall (Schuylkill) addressed his intention to introduce a package of bills that takes aim at the long-term care workforce crisis.

“When my parents required help in local long-term care facilities, my family and I saw how hard our caregivers worked to keep them safe,” said Senator Argall. “We must take action now to encourage more people to pursue careers in long-term care so that all of our families can receive quality care in the future.”

In collaboration with the Pennsylvania Health Care Association (PHCA) –– Pennsylvania’s leading advocacy organization for long-term care –– Senator Argall identified a legislative path that modernizes caregiver training and breaks down barriers that limit workers from being hired for careers in long-term care.

“We worked with our members to identify barriers that were restricting prospective caregivers from entering a career in long-term care, which allowed us to help design legislation to improve job entry processes,” said Tim Ward, director of government affairs and advocacy for the Pennsylvania Health Care Association. “We are grateful to Senator Argall for recognizing the importance of finding workforce solutions that will support the care of our state’s seniors and adults with disabilities.”

Pennsylvania currently ranks fifth among all other states for being home to the highest population of residents age 80 and older. By 2040, that same demographic will nearly double in size compared to that population in 2020. As a result, demand for long-term care services only continues to dramatically climb at a time when the sector is faced with not having enough caregivers.

The amount of employees in nursing care is at a low rate not seen in more than 20 years. Collectively, nursing facilities and senior care communities had 26,000 fewer workers in 2022 than the total workforce just two years prior, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The legislative initiatives are broken down as follows.

  • Workforce initiative #1: modernizes CNA training
    • This bill works to modernize Certified Nurse Aide (CNA) training in Pennsylvania by establishing a uniformed, state-wide CNA training program, allowing nurse graduates and students to take the CNA certification exam without completing the nurse aide training program.
  • Workforce initiative #2: allows high school juniors and seniors to obtain credit towards graduation requirements for working in congregate care settings
    • This bill seeks to identify and recruit the next generation of workers to valuable careers in caregiving by allowing high school juniors and seniors to earn up to two credits toward their graduation requirements for employment in care settings, including nursing homes, personal care homes and assisted living residences.
  • Workforce initiative #3: allows for interested caregivers to take a skills competency examination if they cannot produce a high school diploma or GED
    • This bill requires the Department of Human Services to offer a skills competency examination for those without a high school diploma or GED who want to work in a senior living community.