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Live with Purpose - May 31, 2023
by Kathie Miller
Every day in the United States, 10,000 people turn 65. In 2020, 17% of the U.S. population had reached the age of 65 or older. By 2040, that percentage is projected to grow to 22%. You might think that 5% in 20 years doesn’t sound overly dramatic. But it is.
For the first time in history, the growth in our aging population is outpacing birth rates. The World Health Organization notes that all countries “face major challenges to ensure their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift.”
Argentum (a national organization of senior living organizations) projects that the workforce needed to support the long-term care industry in the U.S. will reach 8.3 million by 2040, which represents a 42.1% increase from 2021.
News coverage of this demographic shift can paint a stark picture of the future: one in which the number of people who need care outweighs the number of people who will provide that care. Last year, Politico covered the story and featured one of our team members, Momah Wolapaye. In 2019, The Washington Post explored how this was playing out in Maine, one of the first states to reach the point where one in five residents is age 65 or older.
The writing not only appears clearly on the wall, a spotlight shines brightly on it, making it very difficult to miss. So, what is Goodwin Living doing to address this crisis?
As you might expect, this is a topic of great interest to us as an organization. For nearly five years, we’ve taken steps to make Goodwin Living a workplace of choice. Here are some highlights:
Many of these efforts are made possible by the generosity of donors to the Goodwin Living Foundation. Recently, the Foundation hosted two special events to share stories of how these programs are making a difference at Goodwin Living.
We often talk about how wonderfully diverse our workforce is at Goodwin Living. Our team members represent more than 60 countries. You see the diversity throughout the organization, not just in healthcare roles, though statistics indicate that immigrants make up more than 18% of the 15.2 million people who hold health care jobs in the U.S. And while we have made great strides at Goodwin Living to increase our wages, many of our team members hold more than one job as they support themselves and their family, both here and in their countries of origin.
As you might anticipate, unexpected financial burdens can pose significant challenges for them. Our emergency grants program helps us come around team members who face such hardship.
Two Goodwin Living leaders, Josh Bagley (Executive Director of The View Alexandria) and Nicole De Cesare (Director of Nursing at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads), both shared stories of how they see the impact of the culture of generosity on members of their teams.
Nicole talked about challenges faced during the pandemic. “The Foundation stepped in to address core issues some of our team members faced, from food insecurity to precarious sheltering situations and transportation needs,” Nicole shared. “Through grants to the team members, the Foundation helped them through true financial hardship. It really changed their lives.”
Josh told the story of a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) who was called into work on her day off when others could not get to work due to a snowstorm. Just as she was arriving at work, a tree fell on her car. She removed the tree from her car, parked and reported to work; it wasn’t until the end of her shift that she called a tow truck to get the damaged car to a repair shop. She faced not only the costs of repairing her car but also the costs of renting a car while it was being repaired. These unexpected expenses presented major concerns for her and her family. “We applied for an emergency grant from the Foundation,” Josh explained, “and it was approved right away. When I called her to tell her, she cried.”
Many of our team members seek to learn and grow in ways that help them advance their careers. We do all we can to support that growth through a range of programs including educational grants and on-the-job training programs.
Daniel Garra recently joined the dining team at Goodwin House Alexandria after completing an internship through Kitchen of Purpose. When facing the choice of going to a hotel as an intern or coming to Goodwin Living, Daniel chose Goodwin Living. “I’ve known Goodwin Living since I was 10. My sister used to work as a server at Goodwin House Alexandria. And now, I’m starting off my career here, learning to cook and knowing I’m at a great place.”
Anissa Benjelloun works as a CNA at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads. She has worked for Goodwin Living for 16 years and recently completed the Advanced CNA program, which is designed to help CNAs gain new skills and grow in their careers as caregivers. “The program helped me understand more fully my role as a caregiver, as well as the importance of teamwork. Thanks to the program, I learned how to remain calm during challenging situations.”
Anissa told the story of how she put this training into action when she discovered a resident in distress. Thanks to the training, she knew how to take immediate steps to help the resident, and whenever she sees the resident today, they remind her of how she saved their life.
Cathy Farmer, Clinical Director at Goodwin House Alexandria commented that the educational programs supported by the Foundation help with recruiting. “When I talk with candidates and ask them why they’re interested in working for us, many often talk about the reputation we have for being a learning community. People know Goodwin Living as a place where they can learn and grow.”
Like Anissa, GHA Care Partner Ayan Sharif has participated in the Advanced CNA program. She’s also currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in health administration. She shared her perspective on the effect these educational programs have on recruiting.
“Knowing that there is advancement, knowing that you can have a leadership role, knowing that your voice matters—it all makes a difference,” Ayan commented. “Seeing growth in care partners helps show people that Goodwin Living is a place where you can grow, you can change. We’ve seen people change departments. There is opportunity to explore without it being a question of why someone is leaving [a department]. We want growth, we want you to stay within the company. I think it’s great that Goodwin Living really supports that.”
This support defines the Goodwin Living response to the workforce crisis, and we are grateful to the generous donors to the Foundation for making it possible. Theresa Thomas, Associate Executive Director of Goodwin House Alexandria put it best, “Your dreams and your goals become a part of what we do.”
As Corporate Director of Marketing & Communications, Kathie Miller provides strategic guidance and tactical support for all areas of Goodwin Living. She writes, edits and manages The Good Life blog and newsletter. Kathie joined GHI in 2014 after nearly 15 years at NPR, where she honed her skills in brand and reputation management, content marketing and internal communications. Originally from Pennsylvania, Kathie has slowly come to realize she’s lived in Arlington for more than half her life and should call herself a Virginian. She enjoys the outdoors and brings her rescue dog, Remi, to work every day.