It’s in the news constantly — there is a worker shortage, and some of the hardest hit industries are the lowest paying positions. This includes home care workers such as home health aides, homemakers and personal care staff, who provide critically needed care to older people living at home and adults with disabilities.
Nationwide, home care agencies are having difficulty hiring and keeping home care workers on their staff. This type of work is not easy and can be very trying emotionally. Often, a person considering home care as a job also has the option of working in a much less stressful position for similar or more compensation. Unless a person has a passion for providing in-home care, the decision to work for a retail, restaurant, or other type employment is often the right choice for that individual.
AARP polled nearly 3,000 people in 2021. The survey indicated that 75% of people age 50+ would like to stay in their current homes or communities for as long as possible. By 2030, older adults will account for roughly one-fifth of the population of the United States. Although a good portion of older adults are able to live independently with little or no assistance, there is a significant number who will need help to live a healthy and safe life in their home. The need for home care workers is going to grow significantly.
Massachusetts government leaders have recognized this issue and have taken steps to try to alleviate the situation. Pay increases for home care workers have been put in place for state-funded programs and a free personal and home care aide state training (PHCAST) home care aide program is available online to all interested prospective home care workers.
Despite these and other steps, Massachusetts continues to experience an extreme home care worker shortage. Individuals and families seeking workers often wait weeks or over a month before services are in place.
One possible solution for providing in-home care for an older friend of family member is the Consumer Directed Care program. Consumer Directed Care is available to people who have been assessed and found eligible for a state-funded home care program. The consumer becomes the employer, is allowed to choose their home care worker (or workers), set their schedule, and assign tasks. A consumer’s friend or family member — other than a spouse — can be hired to provide services. A “Fiscal Intermediary” (FI) agency takes care of the payroll, tax withholding, and other accounting tasks that are required of a legal employer. The rate of pay for the worker, who submits a weekly timesheet, is determined by state mandates. The consumer is responsible for the hiring, training, scheduling, and — if needed — the termination of the home care worker.
In addition to Consumer Directed Care, Aging Services Access Points (ASAP) such as SeniorCare offer a variety of additional services that support remaining at home. These can include specialized adaptive equipment (bath rails, etc.), assistance with medication management, training and access to technology (tablets, cellphones, virtual monitoring, data plans, etc.), robotic comfort pets, laundry services, transportation (taxi, private vans, Mass Trans, etc.), incontinence supplies, YMCA memberships, and more. Eligibility for these additional services is based on a variety of factors.
“We want the public to know that SeniorCare can help in many different ways above and beyond the traditional services provided in the home and despite the delays we sometimes experience” says SeniorCare Chief Executive Officer Scott Trenti. To learn more about SeniorCare services, call 978-281-1750.
Tracy Arabian is the communications officer at SeniorCare Inc., a local agency on aging that serves Gloucester, Beverly, Essex, Hamilton, Ipswich, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Rockport, Topsfield and Wenham.