This is an excellent article and everyone, especially our state and federal governments, should take notice.
The shortage of passionate and professional caregivers is real and the problem is only going to get worse unless we take measure to address the problem.
The Minneapolis-St. Paul Fox affiliate reported on this very issue last year:
A couple of points really resonate with Aware Senior Care:
1. Paul Osterman — an MIT economist and author of “Who Will Care for Us?” — says, “If nothing is done to improve these jobs, by the year 2040, there’ll be a shortage of at least 350,000 paid caregivers — there could be more.” (Even Osterman says this is a conservative estimate; PHI, for instance, reports the shortage could be more than 600,000 caregivers.)
i.Pay a higher hourly wage. Our hourly rate for caregivers is already above the State of North Carolina average by a pretty good margin. Our personal care aides start at $10.00/hr. and Certified Nursing Assistants at $11/hr. After a 90-day probation, we increase pay by $.50/hr.
ii.We have a personal time off (PTO) program in place which is rare for home care companies. It’s the equivalent of an increase of $.27/hr. and we give our caregivers the option of taking a pay increase or PTO.
iii.We have quarterly training on advanced care such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and ALS.
iv.We have a comprehensive orientation training program with high standards of care.
v.We recognize that our success hinges on hiring and staffing professional caregivers that want to work for us because their first priority is not pay, it’s making adifference.
2. “There’s potential to lift up the workforce by broadening the scope of home care jobs and providing more training. That will be good for the consumers they help, but it will also be good for the medical system because it will save the medical system money.”
a.We totally agree that great care in the home has a significant impact on client wellness which equates to decreased doctor visits and decreases the need for medications. We hope this effectiveness gets recognized by the government and they will in turn figure out how healthcare insurance can pick up some of the tabor reward clients for having home care.
3. “Employers lose an estimated $33 billion a year for senior care issues. People are not able to focus, they’re not able to show up, they’re distracted…so, all of a sudden, Dad needs to go to the doctor and you need to drop everything or there’s a crisis [and] you have to go to the hospital.”
a. This is a significant point. Gina and I cared for our own parents personally and this negatively impacted our productivity and how much time we spent on the job. With me, it was when I was working in Florida with Power of Attorney (POA) for my Mother Emily in New York. I spent countless hours handling finances which added up to days of time worked straightening out issues with the IRS.
We must not underestimate the stress on the family and how it adversely impacts both personal and work life. This alone is one of the key things we stress with families struggling to care for their parents that really need home care from a professional. When my Mom was initially unreceptive to the idea of professional care, she changed her mind when I explained to her the stress it caused and the impact caregiving had on both my work and personal life.
How we think the senior care industry should address the points raised in this article:
1.We recognize caregivers are professionals and we treat them as much. When they stray from professional behavior, we don’t schedule them for shifts and we tell them as much. If we’re going to treat them as professionals, we expect professional behavior. We have a strong focus on recruiting, training, and retaining professional caregivers.
2.Paying caregivers a higher wage and offering incentives to retain them is worth the investment in the long-run. We’ve found clients are willing to pay a little extra to ensure they have quality senior care. The caregiving industry has made strides, but the whole system needs incentivize prolonged employment for caregivers to meet the growing demand for care.
3.Personal aides should be required to attain a professional certification similar to certified nursing aides (CNAs). It would set a standard for professionalism and ensure home care clients they are getting the highest quality care.
4. Our government needs to make changes in healthcare to reward home care through tax incentives or credits by insurance companies. Good in-home care will
save money by reducing hospitalization and help clients live healthier and more purposeful lives.
Quality in home senior care starts with great caregivers. We need to give them the tools to be successful while offering incentives to maintain a high standard of work. I think these four action points are a good start.