New York, like so many states across the country, is adding more home care workers. The home care industry is the number one job creator in the entire nation, even though average wages and salaries remain relatively low, especially compared to other health care jobs. For this, and several other reasons, though, a high number of the men and women who enter into this field burn out and leave these jobs before long.
It is creating an epidemic of sorts, not just in New York, but across the country. Many advocates for in home care workers are demanding increased wages and benefits, but the owners of these agencies are warning of the consequences. By increasing wages and benefits without an increase in reimbursement from Medicaid or charging clients more, many of these agencies will not be able to survive and if they have to close, then there will be less access to care for an aging population.
As noted in Crain’s New York Business blog, As New York adds home health aides, let’s stop burning them out, written by Sarah Nusbaum:
“Beyond caring about this out of compassion for workers, we should consider that poor job quality also lessens the quality of patient care. Efforts to improve the job of home health aide, such as by extending Fair Labor Standards Act wage and hour protections to it, raise very real challenges for other stakeholders in home care. Many agencies are barely able to survive with current Medicaid reimbursement rates and will be unable to cover the increased compensation. This means they will have to lay off aides or reduce their hours, or even shut down.”
The job of being a professional caregiver, regardless of where they work in the country, is stressful. It’s a highly demanding job, both physically and emotionally and it requires true compassion for this level of work. While many agency owners and managers would love to increase wages for their caregivers, it’s not an option unless more revenue streams come in.
While burnout will happen no matter how much a person makes, the lower the wages and weaker the benefits, the more emotionally draining this type of work can feel. It’s a problem that many agencies face and as more seniors demand these types of services, it will continue. Some people make simple solution claims, but rarely are they the ones responsible for providing these services. Home care agencies have a difficult road to navigate, and if burnout remains an epidemic, it’s going to affect quality of care and even availability for some seniors and disabled adults.
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