As a demographic, the senior population in the United States is increasing. The baby boomer generation is now retiring and as people live longer and seek to age in place, it is placing increased demand on home care support services. However, at the same time, Medicaid reimbursement rates have been cut at the federal level and states are struggling to maintain adequate funding to ensure each resident has the opportunity to rely on in-home care providers.
With these cuts and low reimbursement rates, it has kept invaluable workers, these home care aides, grappling with stagnantly low wages, especially for a high stress, physically demanding profession. That’s leading to continued high turnover rates and agencies having difficulty filling open vacancies.
It was mentioned in the TRIB Live blog, Donna Pierantoni: Home care crisis’ impact on disabled adults, seniors, written by Donna Pierantoni:
“Between 2015 and 2018, the turnover rate for home health aides went from 50% to 88%, exceeding the national turnover rate of 82%, as less demanding and less stressful jobs pay more. The state is responsible for funding the PAS program and for ensuring that there are enough aides to care for residents within the program. The state established the PAS rates in 2012 and raised them once, by 2%, in 2014. At the same time, the cost of living and agencies’ costs — taxes, worker’s comp, training, onboarding, criminal background checks (which have gone up from $8 to $22 per check), equipment and supplies — have gone up by much more than 2%.”
With these high turnover rates and low wages, agencies and other home care providers are having an extremely difficult time filling positions and that is leaving some seniors and disabled adults unable to find adequate and reliable care.
An easy target among the general public to blame has been the home care companies themselves. Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between what the general public perception is about pay rates and what these agencies receive monetarily for the services they provide. It is one of many factors leading to smaller, independent agencies and businesses either shutting down or selling out to larger conglomerates.
However, even as the home care sector is the number one job creator in the country, it remains difficult to keep quality caregivers on staff and to have enough aides to support the demand in many communities. If these issues are not addressed, as the baby boomer generation continues to retire and demand increases, there are some within the industry who notice a perfect storm on the horizon, not too far off in the distance.