Need for nursing care hits home in Southwest Florida

Need for nursing care hits home in Southwest Florida

High unemployment has done little to ease the challenges of hiring for senior living communities and nursing homes, and experts say it will only get harder as the economy improves and the nation steadily grows older.

Recruiting doctors, nurses, nursing assistants and other medical staff is a key concern for employers, who must strive to retain the employees they have and compete with hospitals and doctors’ offices for new hires, local industry professionals said.

“If you are trying to hire a physician now it is extremely difficult and hiring those skilled nurses is an industry challenge,” said Dan Lavender, chief executive officer of Moorings Park, a senior living community in Naples with 700 residents. Services there range from independent living and home health care to full-time nursing care. “It’s a challenge that is only going to get more difficult.”

The nation is growing older and Southwest Florida is on the leading edge of that trend. A 2008 industry report called “Mapping the Future” projects the number of people age 85 and older will increase by about 80 percent nationally by 2030. In the Florida, the increase is 126 percent and in Southwest Florida it is 174 percent.

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