Senior Care Providers Plug Workforce Gaps with Older Adults’ Help

As industry leaders continue to seek creative ways to attack the staffing issue, some senior living organizations are turning to an innovative nonprofit that that taps retirees to help close workforce gaps.

ReServe, based in New York City, is a nonprofit in operation since 2005 that matches professionals 55 and older, dubbed “ReServists,” with organizations that need their expertise. The organization just amped up its partnership with The New Jewish Home, showing how senior care providers can benefit from ReServists help.

The ReServists

Currently, ReServe is placing ReServists from a variety of industries in positions in Baltimore, South Florida, Milwaukee, Newark, New York City and Westchester County. The organization is partnered with about six or seven health care organizations in New York.

“We have a new generation of older adults and they aren’t going to retire in the same way as their parents and grandparents,” Laura Traynor, director of ReServe, tells Senior Housing News. “They want to be engaged and work toward the greater good.”

For the most part, ReServists are retired and looking for a way to give back and be productive. At least 80% of reservists have a college degree and 40% have a master’s degree or higher, she adds.

The organization is partnered with 800 nonprofits for placement nationwide and has a database of 1,500 ReServists in New York alone. ReServists generally work 10-20 hours per week, are paid a minimum wage stipend and can stay in one placement anywhere from 12 weeks to eight years.

Helping the industry

ReServe’s recent partnership with New York City-based The New Jewish Home—which provides rehabilitation, housing, long-term care and home care to seniors in New York—will specifically focus on dementia care. ReServe has partnered with the health care organization to offer dementia care navigation services to rehabilitation patients as they prepare for discharge to their homes.

“We do have a track record for placing ReServists in different types of roles, some as nurses and some as care companions,” Traynor said. “The model, though, is around dementia care and is a care coaching model, but in the future we could see all sorts of applications other than dementia care. We could have ReServists help with coaching for diabetes or telemedicine, for example.”

ReServists who have worked in health care for their entire career also seem to be able to connect with the older patients in partner organizations, because they are working with someone who is not that much older or younger than themselves, she adds.

More than half of leaders in the industry are already tapping into temp agencies to combat the shortage in workers, but having years of experience and someone who may better connect to patients as opposed to less-experienced workers may be something the industry could use to its advantage in the coming years.

Moving into 2017, ReServe will be looking to put a focus on care coaches working with home health aides that either work in senior communities or home health agencies, where they will serve as a mentor to the aides.

“Many aides are on the front lines and our ReServist coaches have a lot of experience and could coach to help address issues of safety accidents as well as have an impact on staff retention,” explained Traynor.

Written by Alana Stramowski

Photo Credit: “New York City, dimanche 30 janvier,” by vincent desjardins, CC BY 2.0