COVID-19 and the Future of Home Care Workers

The home care industry is expanding at a faster than anticipated pace.

By Leah Felderman BA MA  
Updated: 11/02/2020  
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Home Care Professionals Photo by Rusty Watson on Unsplash

COVID-19 and the Future of Home Care Workers

The home care industry is expanding at a faster than anticipated pace. The aging of the Baby Boomer era partnered with the recent developments of COVID-19 have melded to create an extreme demand for home care and home care professionals.

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In recent decades there has been an undercurrent movement in health care to decentralize care away from large scale facilities (skilled nursing facilities, assisted livings, etc.). This movement has gained considerable support from the Baby Boomers desiring to age in place, and most recently has seen an increased interest from the population at large due the developments of COVID. What does all this mean in terms of home care for your aging loved one? Reputable home care agencies and caregivers are in high demand.

Home health agencies should be improving their recruitment and retention strategies. Potential home care professionals should fine tune their education and experience to maximize career potential.

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Did you know?1

Home care is not only a luxury afforded to those that want to age in place, but a right supported by the Supreme Court for all whom need home care to age in place. The overwhelming notion is that the elderly (and disabled) are not forced to enter a congregate living situation because it is convenient for the state. COVID has reinforced the dangers that disease presents when it invades a vulnerable population in susceptible living arrangements. During the current COVID crisis, deaths in long-term care facilities and nursing homes have accounted for no less than 42 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the United States.2

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Home Care Professionals

Home health care is one of the fastest-growing occupations, with over a million new jobs projected by 2028.3

One concern at the forefront of the home care industry is to make certain that home care professionals are recognized as essential workers and compensated as such. There are currently approximately 2.3 million home care workers providing care to seniors and people with disabilities across home and community-based settings.4

Home Care Worker Statistics5

In addition to low wages, home care employment tends to have inconsistent hours due to varying needs of clients. It is estimated that two-thirds of home care workers work part-time, or only for part of the year.6

Low incomes are closely linked to higher poverty rates: almost 25% of home care workers live in households below the federal poverty line, compared to 9 percent of all U.S. workers.7 Yet home care is, undoubtably, big business. The home health care industry has an estimated $71 billion in annual revenue!8 Not a typo-$71 BILLION!

In addition to this staggering stat, 72 percent of home care is paid for by publicly funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.9 There is no question that all home care workers need to receive a fair and living wage. 

Looking Forward

Prior to the COVID pandemic, home health care providers were still benefiting from the influx of aging Baby Boomers’ preference to age in place.10 Post-COVID, there has been a large scale diversion for seniors from facility based treatments to home- and community-based care.11 As such, recruitment of home care professionals has significantly increased due to this demand.

There are some immediate obstacles for home health, as navigating COVID is still an evolving situation. Concerns such as telehealth reimbursement and portability of Medicaid benefits are all issues that are being ironed out as a new norm is navigated. Yet, the long-term outlook for the home care industry is extremely positive. This is a good time for current employees and potential home care workers to (re)assess their worth. Negotiation of a paycheck that is representative of one’s participation as an essential employee is key to ensure the continued success of the home care ecosystem.

Sources:

[1] Holly, R. “Predicting COVID-19s Long Term Impact on the Home Health Care Market.” Home Health Care Newswww.homehealthcarenews.com/2020/06/predicting-covid-19s-long-term-impact-on-the-home-health-care-market/. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[2] Ibid
[3] “ Essential but Undervalued.” Brookings www.brookings.edu/research/essential-but-undervalued-millions-of-health-care-workers-arent-getting-the-pay-or-respect-they-deserve-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[4] Holly, R. “Predicting COVID-19s Long Term Impact on the Home Health Care Market.” Home Health Care Newswww.homehealthcarenews.com/2020/06/predicting-covid-19s-long-term-impact-on-the-home-health-care-market/. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[5] “US Home Care Workers: Key Facts.” PHI National www.phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/legacy/phi-home-care-workers-key-facts.pdf. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[6] Ibid
[7] “ Essential but Undervalued.” Brookings www.brookings.edu/research/essential-but-undervalued-millions-of-health-care-workers-arent-getting-the-pay-or-respect-they-deserve-in-the-covid-19-pandemic/. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[8] “US Home Care Workers: Key Facts.” PHI National www.phinational.org/wp-content/uploads/legacy/phi-home-care-workers-key-facts.pdf. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[9] Ibid
[10] Holly, R. “Predicting COVID-19s Long Term Impact on the Home Health Care Market.” Home Health Care Newswww.homehealthcarenews.com/2020/06/predicting-covid-19s-long-term-impact-on-the-home-health-care-market/. Accessed 25 July 2020.
[11] Ibid

*This article wasn't sponsored and doesn't contain affiliate links.

Leah Felderman BA MA
 

About the Author

Leah Felderman is a proud alumnus of University of Central Florida (BA) and San Diego State University (MA). She has worn many occupational hats including teaching, hospitality management, government contractor and non-profit organizer. She is an intrepid international traveler having visited over 60 countries before happily settling down into her new life chapter of domesticity as a mom and Coast Guard wife.



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