The home health care industry is facing a serious dilemma: low wages are causing high turnover among home health care workers. But to provide better wages, benefits, and overtime pay, the industry would be forced to make seniors pay more for care.
In an article on USAToday.com, Catherine Ruckelshaus of the National Employment Law Project said that high turnover is directly related to low wages. It’s a losing battle from every angle: Seniors feel the effects because they may receive care from different aids rather than the same person. Employers are affected because they must constantly retrain employees. And employees themselves don’t really get a chance to advance in their careers.
In the article, Ruckelshaus said, “They’re making $16,000 a year. No one can live on that. I think we forgot the broader picture here.”
Since 2000, home health care employment has increased by 23%, but salaries have remained the same, around $21,000 a year, according to a study conducted by Michael Hicks of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.
Some of the reasons the home health care industry can’t hire enough people to support the industry’s growth include low wages, few benefits, no paid leave, and no health insurance.
With the Baby Boomer generation choosing home health care over hospital or nursing home care, the issue is becoming more urgent. We’ll be keeping an eye on this issue to see how it develops.