SAN ANTONIO — During its annual Senior Living Executive Conference in San Antonio this week, seniors housing advocacy group Argentum revealed a host of new initiatives for the organization. Among them were drives to offer data on the widespread effects of the industry, ease the burden of hiring and labor issues on operators, and make improvements in food safety and training.
The data initiative, named Senior Living Impact, was started due to Argentum’s belief that there is a “need to share the story of senior living’s far-reaching impact at both the federal and state levels.”
Argentum partnered with Tripp Umbach, a consulting firm that specializes in economic impact analyses, to target the data. The firm’s research through key stakeholder interviews, direct data collection, historical surveys from a proprietary database, and public and government sources, compiled data to quantify the senior living industry’s economic, employment, government revenue, and social responsibility impacts.
“Through the study, we’ve learned that today, the industry is responsible for providing over 1.6 million jobs and nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in total economic impact,” said James Balda, Argentum president & CEO. “Those are tremendous numbers that can serve as a framework for critical conversations with a spectrum of stakeholders—including policymakers.”
The research also showed how the total economic impact of senior living ($246.9 billion) compared nationally with other industries. It ranked higher in total U.S. impact than the auto manufacturing industry ($205.8 billion), the air transportation industry ($202.8 billion) and the hospitality industry ($167.9 billion).
A dynamic map with complete state and national data, as well as an explanatory video, is available at seniorlivingimpact.org.
The workforce initiative will also be data and metrics driven, seeking to assist in recruiting, retaining and measuring the senior living workforce.
Argentum will sponsor the first national apprenticeship for nursing assistants and caregivers in senior living. The apprenticeship will establish standards for on-the-job training and related instruction as caregivers grow their career with advanced skills in dementia care, safety and other common needs across senior living providers.
The pathway is being developed by an Apprenticeship Steering Group of Argentum members, including representatives from Brookdale, Commonwealth, Country Meadows, Life Care Services, Merrill Gardens, OnShift, Trilogy Health Services and Vi.
“This initiative will pave the way for caregiver advancement in the industry,” said Balda. “We need to continue to reward high performers and retain dedicated talent, and apprenticeship programs are an opportunity as seen in other industries such as restaurants, hospitality, and multi-family housing.”
Also part of this plan, Argentum launched a new service called the Workforce Insight Report, sponsored by OnShift, which will be available to Argentum Premier members. The report highlights regional workforce statistics, year-over-year trends, and a specific focus on occupational wage rates for 383 metropolitan statistical areas.
Finally, for the dining initiative, Argentum has partnered with the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe program, which seeks to offer resources and exams to improve food safety training.
Through this new partnership, Argentum members are eligible for a discount on course content that can be used to prepare for the ServSafe certification examination.
“Preventing foodborne illness through proven food safety practices is vitally important for those working with senior populations,” said Sherman L. Brown, executive vice president, training & certification, National Restaurant Association.