As the home care industry struggles to find qualified caregivers to fill many vacant positions, agencies are turning their focus to an older workforce. There are many reasons why wages and benefits are considered relatively low for home care aides, but it’s not that agency owners are greedy and don’t want to pay; Medicaid, which provides a significant sum of funding for this important health care sector, has been cutting reimbursement rates for years.
As these agencies and other providers throughout the industry struggle to find ways to finance their operations and provide the support and service aging seniors and disabled adults require, they have begun turning to seniors themselves to fill some of these positions.
It’s an interesting conundrum being that the vast majority of people relying on home care support services are seniors themselves. However, it is a very real and serious issue beginning to plague the home care sector.
As noted by Ileana Najarro reporting for the Houston Chronicle in the article, Home care agencies turn to older workers to fill in labor shortage:
“With few financial incentives to bring in new workers, the home-care industry is facing a labor shortage that is expected to worsen with time. Industry experts anticipate a need for at least 13 million new in-home caregivers by 2030.
“We’re facing a shortage of qualified people to serve rapidly growing demand,” said Jeff Bevis, CEO of Ohio-based FirstLight Home Care.
To fill in the gaps, agencies such FirstLight are tapping into an older work force willing to care for clients older or closer to them in age on a part-time basis.
For the industry, it’s a temporary solution to a worsening problem. For caregivers like Roewe, 61, it’s a chance to make a positive connection with someone who needs her.”
Much of the work that home care aides perform is physically demanding. The older a caregiver is, the more challenging it’s going to be, not just on a daily basis, but as the years pass and that physical demand takes its toll. While seniors may be able to fill the gap temporarily, if more of these open positions are being filled exclusively by majority women over the age of 60, it may lead to potential serious problems in that aging and disabled clients are simply not getting the level of physical assistance they require due to the limitations age will place on their caregiver.
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