BOSTON, Mass. (SHNS)–A new national alliance aims to shine a spotlight on the workforce challenges facing the home care industry by amplifying the stories of workers and consumers.
The Home Care Workforce Action Alliance on Wednesday launched its “Voices for Care at Home” campaign with the goal of compelling stakeholders at all levels — representatives for patients and direct-care professionals, Congress and state legislatures, federal officials and governors — to act on issues including a shortage of home care workers and the need for better wages and training.
“At no other time has the home care industry faced such a workforce crisis, to the point that older Americans and people with disabilities cannot access the care and support that they need to remain as independent as possible in their own homes,” Home Care Association of America CEO Vicki Hoak said during a virtual campaign launch event.
David Totaro of Bayada Home Health Care, a national home and community-based service provider, said recruitment and retention challenges are not new for home care but have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic as aides and nurses leave their jobs due to burnout and concerns about health risks or seek out higher pay in other fields. “Wage inflation is crippling us,” Totaro said. “Retail is paying almost double our starting salaries.”
The campaign features home care workers and families who receive home care services sharing their stories. Cindy Knapp, who introduced herself in a video as a “parent of a young adult with significant medical needs,” said her son needs around-the-clock care after a brain injury and that if a nurse for him calls out, there may not be another available to fill in. That leaves Knapp and her husband to decide who will need to miss work the next day after staying up with their son all night.
She said home care is a difficult job and encouraged decision-makers to consider raising wages in the field. “They deserve every penny that they make and more,” Knapp said.
Home health aide Cathy Creevey described her profession of 20 years as rewarding but challenging, particularly around the amount of hours an aide must work to earn “somewhat of a decent paycheck.” The job, she said, has more to it than people might realize. “It’s showing them that, listen, I’m not just here just to get a paycheck,” Creevey said. “I’m here to make sure that you’re going to be taken care of, that you can put your trust in me.”