The numbers are stark.
By 2025, over 1,000,000 seniors will be living in Minnesota.
By 2030, more than 25 percent of Minnesota’s adult population will be 65 or older.
The growing senior population in Minnesota means an increasing need for professional caregivers across the state. For 24-year-old administrator Ursula Hagstrand, recruiting more caregivers means finding new ways to engage young people about the opportunities and rewarding experiences available to those who pursue senior care.
Ursula works at Good Samaritan Society in the town of St. James in south central Minnesota, which provides independent living, assisted living, rehab/skilled care, hospice care and outpatient therapy.
She notes that continuous funding for caregiving programs is imperative to growing the caregiving workforce.
“We’re getting the caregivers that we need, but it’s not an easy task,” Ursula says. “It’s becoming a struggle. Keeping the nursing programs affordable and CNA classes affordable and promoting those programs is important.”
Ursula points out that when she was in high school, she did not know all the different careers she could pursue in the world of senior care.
“What needs to happen in order to strengthen Minnesota’s caregiving workforce is the education piece,” she says. “The people in our community don’t necessarily know the opportunities that are out there.”
For Ursula, it was facing tough decisions about her grandparents’ declining health that exposed her to the world of long-term care in high school and college.
“As we went through those difficult times as a family, it opened the door to me to all of the opportunity for meaningful careers in senior care and the great need for quality senior care,” Ursula says. “I began taking gerontology classes and was intrigued by what I was learning and how I was able to apply what I was learning to my personal life. I quickly saw the benefit of being more educated about the many challenges and blessings that come with the aging process. I decided I wanted to make working with seniors and their families my career.”
While studying long-term care administration and sculpture at Kansas State University, Ursula completed an Administrator in Training practicum. Upon graduation, Ursula joined the Good Samaritan Society and took part in the Society’s Administrator in Training program before being hired as administrator in St. James.
Ursula believes it is important for caregivers to be advocating for seniors and for compassionate care and quality care.
“If we’re not advocating and promoting quality care, then we’re not doing our job,” she says. “It should always be our intention and our purpose to provide good quality care and bring that to light.”