It’s no secret that family members have taken an active role in looking after aging and disabled loved ones for years. In fact, throughout history it has been the nuclear family that looks after one another, often living in the same house or in such close proximity to one another that they can look after each other with relative ease.
In today’s environment, that nuclear family no longer exists in many places, and that places increased pressure on adult children, siblings, and others who want to ensure that a person they care about is safe at home. Often, this is where people turn to home care support services.
Unfortunately, in some regions of the country wages for these workers, including visiting nurses, remains stagnant and those medical professionals are turning to other employers, leaving many elderly and disabled adults without adequate care.
As noted in The Washington Post article, Shortage of home nurses in Va. And Md. due to low pay is forcing family members to step in, written by Tara Bahrampour:
“The reason lies in a stark state-by-state discrepancy in the pay in-home nurses receive through Medicaid. Maryland and Virginia have set reimbursement rates significantly lower than surrounding jurisdictions. The Maryland rate is around $35 per hour and the Virginia rate ranges from a little more than $20 per hour to a little more than $30 per hour. Nurses doing the same work earn $50 per hour in the District, $44 per hour in Pennsylvania, $46 per hour in Delaware and $44 per hour in West Virginia.
As a result, licensed practical nurses are finding more lucrative positions out of state or at hospitals or other care institutions that pay more, leaving many homebound Medicaid patients without services. Since the reimbursement rate has not increased as quickly as the cost of living, the problem has been getting steadily worse, say advocates of increasing rates.”
In some cases, family members may not be fully aware of the support services that in-home health care can offer or don’t think it’s affordable for them at that time. Others simply may have difficulty finding reliable, fully licensed certified nursing assistants or RNs to fill the role required.
The challenge for home care agencies and other providers remains significant, especially when being reimbursed through Medicaid. With constant cuts to Medicaid reimbursements to home care support services, it means many of these agencies providing valuable services to those in need are limited in what they can offer. Reaching out to and connecting with these family caregivers, especially those who are simply unaware of the value in home care support, can help bridge at least some of the gap that leads to many seniors relying on inexperienced or unreliable help.