Report: Home care agencies need COVID supports

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (SHNS) – Four out of five home care agencies in Massachusetts experienced a decline in-home care hours during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new UMass Lowell and Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety report.

In a survey of the industry, almost all managers said that COVID-19 exposure was the “leading concern voiced by clients,” while three-quarters reported at least one aide testing positive for the highly infectious virus or displaying symptoms.

The industry already faced long-standing challenges such as low reimbursement rates and wages, which have been exacerbated by the public health crisis, researchers wrote in the report published Tuesday.

Authors suggested state leaders give home care agencies and workers similar treatment as other front-line health care workers, such as greater access to and funding for personal protective equipment and free COVID-19 testing.

“Although Massachusetts designates home care aides as essential workers, agencies and aides do not currently have access to the resources available to other health care providers with similar occupational exposure to COVID-19,” the report said. “Policies pertaining to home care should reflect the key role of home health and home care in the health care, disability, and eldercare systems.”

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