Is There a Caregiver Shortage?

Is There a Caregiver Shortage?

You may have heard about it in the news: the number of people aging who will need some type of support is growing faster than the number of people who will be available to care for them. However, there is a new study that finds there might be good news after all.

The American Health Rankings 2019 Senior Report from the United Health Foundation finds that “the number of home health aides nationwide has increased 44% since 2013.” Put another way, there 135.5 home health care workers per 1,000 adults aged 75 and over compared to 93.8 six years ago. The report simply refers to this group as “the number of personal care and home health aides.”

“The number of home health care workers grew more than 550,000 from 2018 to 2019,” the report states. “Home health and personal care aides enable seniors to remain in their homes by providing short-term, skilled nursing services for seniors with functional decline or chronic illness.”

In-home care can be provided by both skilled and non-skilled aides or caregivers, depending on the need and the state laws which require certain licensure for in-home care delivery.

There will continue to be a need for these types of aides. “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for long-term support and services—including home health care—is expected to increase 41 percent over the next decade to accommodate the growing senior population,” the report explains.

The number of home health care workers available varies from state to state. For example, there are “8.2 times more home health care workers in the healthiest state for this measure, Minnesota at 263.9 workers per 1,000 adults aged 75 and older, than in the least healthy state for this measure, Florida at 32.2 workers per 1,000 adults aged 75 and older.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that “the direct care workforce will grow more than any single occupation in the country” and projects that there will be 7.8 million direct care job openings between 2016 to 2026.

According to PHI, a non-profit organization that analyzes research about the direct care workforce, the direct care workforce comprises about 4.4 million workers in the United States. “Between 2016 and 2026, the direct care workforce is project to grow by 30 percent—from 4.4 million to 5.8 million workers,” PHI states. “Home care will add more than 1 million jobs in that period, which represents the largest growth of any job sector in the country.”

PHI defines direct care workers as those who “assist older adults and people with disabilities with daily tasks, such as dressing, bathing, and eating. Direct care workers include personal care aides, home health aides, and nursing assistants. Personal care aides also help their clients with housekeeping and might assist them with errands, appointments, and social engagements outside of the home. Home health aides and nursing assistants perform some clinical tasks, such as blood pressure readings and assistance with range-of-motion exercises.”

While PHI continues to see a shortage of in-home care aides, they see an opportunity. “These statistics are startling, but they should serve to galvanize, not further stall, the long-term care sector,” states Stephen Campbell, data and policy analyst at PHI.

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