Research into policy options to strengthen the labour market for elderly care

Labour-market shortages are an increasing problem for the care of the elderly in the Netherlands. Although demand for elderly care is sharply increasing due to an ageing population, the supply of potential employees and informal carers is lagging. Having formulated eight policy options for addressing the labour market issue, the Dutch association of elderly care organisations (ActiZ) commissioned SiRM to map each policy option’s impact and feasibility. ActiZ will use these research results in discussion with other parties about realising these options.

Meeting the increased numbers of carers needed in the coming years is one of the most critical challenges in this sector, as recognised by ActiZ – the association for elderly care in the Netherlands. Among other responsibilities, ActiZ’s Labour Committee deals with labour market issues and formulated eight policy options for ActiZ members to make a more significant contribution to this issue.

However, ActiZ is partly dependent on other stakeholders’ decisions and changes to realise these options. Therefore, ActiZ asked SiRM to investigate each policy option’s impact and feasibility. We estimated impact by calculating the potential increase in available workforce hours based on existing studies and labour-market data. We determined feasibility through estimates of external dependency in the labour market, (external) change power, funding, macro budget and laws and regulation.

Our work showed that all eight policy options strengthen the labour-market supply, increasing the hours available for elderly care and thus potentially increasing care and/or reducing workloads. However, the magnitude and feasibility of this increase varies between options.

Our research confirms the absence of a perfect solution: no single policy option combines high impact with high feasibility. However, we identified three policy options with the most significant impact: reducing administrative burdens, using technology optimally and ensuring competency as the guiding principle for the workforce’s deployment. However, realising these three options is highly dependent on other parties, and short-term feasibility is thus lower than other options. The latter includes facilitating and financing the training function for district nursing or realising sufficient financial resources for adequate trainee guidance, reducing the study dropout rate. ActiZ uses these research results to discuss implementing these options with other key parties.

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