The Racial and Ethnic Diversity of the Long-Term Care Workforce

The proportion of the US population aged 65 and older that is non-white is projected to increase from 20% to 27% between 2010 and 2030. This increasing racial/ethnic diversity raises questions about the ability of the long-term care workforce to meet their needs. This project provided information about the extent to which the racial/ethnic diversity of the LTC workforce mirrors the racial/ethnic diversity of the population to help HRSA identify occupations that may benefit from investment of resources to encourage more racial/ethnic minorities to complete education programs.


Key Questions

  • To what extent does racial/ethnic diversity vary across occupations in the LTC workforce, and how does this compare to the racial-ethnic diversity of the current and future population with LTC needs?
  • How does the racial/ethnic diversity of the LTC workforce compare to the racial/ethnic diversity of persons completing training in long-term care occupations?
  • Is there an association between the amount of education required for each LTC occupation and the racial/ethnic diversity of the current workforce and persons completing training?



UCSF Health Workforce Research Center authors Timothy Bates, MMP, Ginachukwu Amah, BA BS, and Janet Coffman, PhD MA MMP have published their report Racial/Ethnic Diversity in the Long-Term Care Workforce. As the need for long-term care (LTC) services doubles over the next 3 decades, a highly diverse LTC workforce will care for an increasingly racially/ethnically diverse client population. The study reveals characterstics of the current LTC workforce using data from the 2015 American Community Survey and description of graduates of LTC-related education programs using data from the 2015 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

The authors found that while there will be some opportunities for increasingly diverse clients to receive care from racially/ethnically concordant LTC workers, all LTC workers will need to be able to care effectively for persons from other racial/ethnical groups.

The finding of an inverse relationship between racial/ethnic diversity and educational attainment suggests a need to provide opportunities for aides to pursue further education so that they can enter other, better paying LTC occupations, such as LVN and RN. Diversifying the RN workforce in LTC is especially important because RNs often work in leadership positions. Employers should provide financial assistance to aides who wish to pursue nursing education and offer them part-time employment while completing their education in exchange for an agreement to work for the LTC employer following graduation.


For questions, contact: Janet Coffman, PhD, MPP, Associate Professor, UCSF.