Even as home health care is becoming the preferred option among elderly and disabled residents across the country, there are challenges the home care sector is facing, especially with regard to recruiting new workers, including nurses.
Home health care nurses are a vital component in helping clients remain home who are dealing with chronic health issues. These visiting nurses can change wound dressings, administer medications, change IVs, monitor vital stats and report that information back to the patient’s primary doctor, and so forth.
However, with Medicaid reimbursement cuts at the federal and some state levels for in-home health care support services, this has made it difficult for some companies to recruit valued nurses, especially those with experience. Hospitals and other private facilities are often able to provide higher wages for these types of services, but home care agencies that are dependent on Medicaid are simply limited in what they can offer as far as pay.
That means many nursing students are not even seeing home care as a viable option, especially when compared to the pay rates at hospitals and some nursing homes.
New Jersey 101.5 reported in its news blog, A Home Health Care Nursing Shortage Is Looming in Jersey, written by David Matthau:
““Unfortunately, they’re not being exposed to home care as a career option in the nursing school setting,” she [Marlana Follet, division director for skilled nursing services at Bayada Home Health Care] said. “They’re not hearing about the impacts they can have on the children and adults that we care for.”
Follet stressed that home healthcare nurses provide an invaluable service.
“We’re keeping patients safe at home,” she said, “we’re providing them dignity and care at home, which is usually where people would want to be with their families.”
Legislation sponsored by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, calls for raising the hourly Medicaid rate for home health care nurses by $10.”
Not being able to recruit valuable workers is an ongoing issue that impacts an entire industry. In New Jersey alone, this concern has left some home care advocates worried aging men and women will be unable to get the care they need in the future.
As more seniors are reaching retirement age, living longer, and facing chronic health issues, nurses remain an integral part of in-home health care support. However, for those dependent on Medicaid for home care services, they may struggle to find reliable, experienced, and registered nurses ready to step in and support them where they are most comfortable: at home.
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