The Oregon Caregiver SPRING/SUMMER 2022 www.ohca.com 20 DATA & RESEARCH Similar to national demographic trends, Oregon’s population is aging. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 18 percent of all Oregonians are 65 years of age and older. By 2030, that percentage will grow to 22 percent or just over one million Oregonians. What may be less well known is that Oregon’s older adult population is also growing increasingly diverse. Approximately, 24 percent of all U.S. older adults are people of color, a number that is projected to grow to 34 percent by 2040. These demographic trends have important implications for the delivery and provision of long term care services in Oregon. Significant racial and ethnic disparities exist within the long term care sector that impact access to care, quality of care, and service delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic has even made some systemic inequalities in long term care worse. A better understanding of the populations and communities who utilize and provide long term care in Oregon is essential to mitigating pandemic-induced inequalities, reducing long-standing disparities within the sector’s service provision, and for ensuring greater equity in care outcomes. Like national trends, the vast majority of all Oregon long term care community residents are women. Some variation exists across care settings. For example, 70 percent of assisted living and residential care community residents are women, while 71 percent of Oregon’s memory care community residents and 57 percent of skilled nursing facility patients are women. Approximately 10 percent of Oregon’s assisted living and residential care community residents are people of color as are nearly 18 percent of skilled nursing facilities residents. There is less readily available data on the demographics of in-home care recipients in Oregon, which is a significant gap in the data given that the majority of those receiving long term care in Oregon receive in-home care rather than care provided in congregate settings. Table 1 provides additional details by care setting. Oregon’s long term care workforce is highly diverse. Racial and ethnic minority populations make up a slightly larger share of the sector’s workforce than the share of the overall population in Oregon. Approximately 31 percent of Oregon’s long term care workforce are people of color, compared with approximately 25 percent of the overall population. There is some variation in workforce demographics across long term care settings in Oregon. See Table 2 for further detail. The vast majority of Oregon’s direct care workforce is female (81 percent female versus 19 percent male). Very little variation exists in distribution across nursing facilities, community-based care, and the in-home care sector. The high proportion of women employed by Oregon long term care communities is Understanding Demographic Trends: Long Term Care Growing Increasingly More Diverse By Walt Dawson, D.Phil comparable to that of the long term care workforce in the United States. The age of the long term care workforce is another important dimension to consider. According to PHI, over 29 percent of Oregon’s home care workforce is 55 years of age or older, while 11 percent of the workforce over the age of 65. This contrasts with congregate care settings where the workforce is generally younger. Further, many nursing professionals in Oregon are at or nearing retirement, which may contribute to a shortage of nurses in the coming years. At the same time, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the need for nurses to grow by as much as 15 percent over the next six years. An awareness of how age intersects with other demographic factors will be essential to training and recruiting a workforce that can provide for the sector needs of Oregon’s increasingly diverse population. Geography is yet another important consideration. Oregon’s rural and frontier communities face unique challenges in terms of accessing long term care services and in service delivery. Indeed, Oregon’s rural and frontier Significant racial and ethnic disparities exist within the long term care sector that impact access to care, quality of care, and service delivery. The COVID-19 pandemic has even made some systemic inequalities in long term care worse.