By Steve Moran

There is this belief, this hope, that immigration will solve the senior living staffing problem that is growing bigger every day. DON’T COUNT ON IT! 

Immigration is such a politically charged issue that neither the conservatives nor the liberals have any interest in the kind of compromise it would take to break the logjam.

A Shocking Statistic

At least 70 million Americans have a criminal record.  

That is more than one-fourth of the adult population. Many of those are people who are hard or impossible to hire for senior living jobs.

That number does include people who were arrested on a felony charge but not convicted, but it does not include all misdemeanors.

A Solution to the Problem

I got to thinking about this after reading at article at Quartz titled “The US has too many prisoners and not enough community health workers. Here’s an idea to solve both problems.”

According to that article:

  • The US has 2 million incarcerated people …
  • Plus 5 million on probation and parole at any given time.
  • Close to 80 million Americans (or 23% of the population) have criminal records.
  • About half of all Americans have a close family member who has been incarcerated.

This means there are a huge number of people who have done their time but are prohibited from doing all kinds of jobs … not just senior living. Because of that prohibition, it makes it more likely they will slip back into crime.

What If …

What if we as a nation could create a program to take those people with a record and provide them with jobs that paid a decent salary and made the world a better place?

Back in 2018 I wrote an article titled “This Has to Be the Most Lamebrain Hiring Scheme I Have Ever Seen,” where I talked about Greyston Bakery, where they will hire the next person on the list without a background check — without an interview without anything. The starting pay is modest, but if the worker shows up every day and on time, and does a good job, the pay and responsibilities quickly accelerate.

At Greyston, their turnover is about one-third of their competitors’. They spend no money on recruiting.

Senior Living

I can hear it now …. “Impossible.” “The rules won’t allow it.” “Residents and family members will be frightened away.” These are all real challenges that would need to be addressed. I am not suggesting that senior living could simply model what Greyston does, taking the next person on the list.

There would have to be screening, and there would be some kinds of crimes that would be forever show stoppers. It would take time and effort to figure it out. But it is hard to see how this is harder than getting immigration legislation passed, and it could transform so much of our world.