In this modern society, the most pressing question perhaps among the aging population is who will help such an ever-growing number of frail elderlies with their daily routine jobs at home that may even include cooking, bathing, and dressing.
Ideally, these are the caregiving responsibilities that are taken up by the younger family members but the hectic daily schedules prevent most of them from performing such duties, quite understandably so.
- The members have very little time in hand to devote to such jobs that need diligence, planning, and precision
- For most of the working boomers and Gen X, such jobs are not very practical and
- In most of the situations, families have their children far-flung leaving them alone at home to take care of them.
Add to that, there is an increasing number of widows and widowers along with those elderlies who are childless. Government statisticians suggest that:
- Home care is one of the fastest growing occupations of the nation at present
- There will be an increased requirement of such caregivers of over a million more by the end of 2026
- The number of care service agencies has increased by 50% from 2014
- The number of aging Americans will soar from what was 1.8% in 2010 to about 4.5% in 2050 and
- Citizens of over 85 years and older is also estimated to rise by more than double in a couple of decades from now.
For all these people, ailing or not, professional home care workers are most awaited, appreciated and welcome relief, coming to their rescue, literally, taking up all their care needs with responsibility and perseverance. It is, for this reason, the demand for home health care Philadelphia are ever rising just as the number of such care service providers. Home care workers also referred to as the ‘direct care’ workforce are expected to rise in numbers dramatically in the following years.
Expecting a shortage
Quite naturally, with such an increase in the number of such health care providers, there is a shortage of workers expected. Sadly, this is the result of a combination of factors including:
- Low wages
- Varying work schedules
- Poor advancement and growth prospects and much more.
All these will make it extremely difficult for the health care providers to fill in the vacancy of such projected home care posts.
In fact, the shortage of such professional caregivers will affect the patients even worse than they can imagine. The experts think that the expectation of the elderly patients will seriously be affected due to such shortage.
Efforts to improve the situation
With that said, there is an immediate need to reduce such effects and already there are a few intriguing and interesting initiatives are taken by the government to improve the situation. The most significant initiative is to improve the working conditions which in turn will boost recruitment and shrink the high turnover of the home care industry on the whole.
The imminent shortage of caregivers has now become a serious problem that the government is trying hard to resolve. This is a condition that requires a political as well as a political solution. Though reforms are very hard to come by and also may need years of lobbying and advocacy, however at the moment the Trump administration and the federal legislators are showing no intent or inclination to work towards it.
To make this system work in a better way it is required to do a lot such as:
- Overhauling the longterm health care infrastructure
- Rewriting the Medicaid rules
- Hiking the pay and benefits of the care workers and
- Lowering the out of pocket costs of the clients.
The good news is that at various state levels different homecare experiments are made which may eventually inform if not compel the federal blueprints to make a few immediate and effective changes. In short, there is no way to go forward without having a political solution to this ever growing problem.
Pay and benefits
To understand the issues of the home care workers and to find a solution to this issue, it is required to understand the current conditions. Typically, the home care industry is facing such a situation as they are losing their workers to those big-box retailers, smaller businesses and even the fast food restaurants that are paying higher wages.
- According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average hourly rate for the home care workers is a meager $10.58. This in comparison is about two-thirds of the hourly pay of veterinarian technicians and what a short-order cook makes in an hour. In other words, people pay $5 more each hour to care for their cats than to care for their elderly parents. When things come down so low, there is no other way but leave this job.
- When it comes to the benefits, these are paltry, too. Only one-third of all home care workers have full-time employment with an agency. That means as it is with any other businesses, the part-timers do not usually qualify to get the benefits. There is no health insurance and most of the home care workers, about 40% of them have to rely on public health care coverage that usually means Medicaid.
- The high rate of job injuries is another factor that is making situations even worse in this industry. Surprisingly, this rate is even higher than that of mining and oil and gas extraction industry. In addition to that, there is a very high risk of sexual harassment, assault, and battery for the female workforce primarily.
All these make it easier to understand why the annual turnover rate is around 60% only in the home care industry and the agencies end up hiring 18 workers every three months on an average and lose more than 15 of them within the same period.
Things could possibly get even worse as the job market will deteriorate even more. There are several reasons including tighter regulation on immigration to the United States