Pandemic caused problems finding home health care

Low pay is big factor that discourages applicants
Posted at 10:20 AM, Apr 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-02 13:20:30-04

(KERO) — There's greater demand than ever now for home health aides to help care for our loved ones. But there aren't enough workers to fill all of the positions.

Recruitment and retention issues aren't new. This is an issue Bob Williams has seen first-hand. He relies on home health aides to care for his 26-year-old son Grant who has autism. He says turnover has been a big issue for his family.

"The pandemic really exacerbated it. I think we lost the number of good health care workers in the field because they didn't want to put themselves at risk. So, I've had turned over three times in the last year is typically about once a year turnover."

Earlier in the pandemic, he was worried about one of the aides taking care of his son getting exposed to COVID on public transit.

Advocates say low pay is a big hurdle with attracting more people to these jobs.

More than $12 billion is going to state Medicaid programs for home and community-based care to add to their current funding. States are still waiting on guidance from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on exactly how the money can be spent.

"If we don't have a better-paid caregiving set of resources the burden on the family members will grow, and that means burnout at times. It may even mean abuse, so they do interconnect you know the interest of family caregivers supports and the interest of pay giver supports to connect," said Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice

One thing that has advocates worried about is the money from the COVID-19 relief law is it's temporary. So if a pay increase happens for these workers because of it -- it may not be sustainable.