Acute shortages of home health aides and nursing assistants are cropping up across the country, threatening care for people with serious disabilities and vulnerable older adults. The emerging crisis is driven by low wages, partly funded by state Medicaid programs — and a shrinking pool of workers willing to perform this physically and emotionally demanding work: helping people get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, shower, eat, participate in activities, and often dealing with challenging behaviors. It portends even worse difficulties to come, as America’s senior citizen population swells to 88 million people in 2050, up from 48 million currently, and requires more assistance with chronic health conditions and disabilities, experts warn.
For years, experts have predicted that demand for services from a rapidly aging population would outstrip the capacity of the “direct care” workforce: personal care aides, home health aides and nursing assistants. The U.S. Bureau of labor Statistics estimates an additional 1.1 million workers of this kind will be needed by 2024 — a 26 percent increase over 2014. Yet, the population of potential workers who tend to fill these jobs, overwhelmingly women ages 25 to 64, will increase at a much slower rate.
After the recession of 2008-09, positions in Medicaid-funded home health agencies, nursing homes and community service agencies were relatively easy to fill for several years. But the improving economy has led workers to pursue other higher-paying alternatives, in retail services for example, and turnover rates have soared.
More must be done to adequately address this threat to seniors and those with disabilities. You can read more about this important issue at the below link.