Home health care workers are among the lowest paid, shifting the burden of long-term care to aging and overstressed family members or assisted living centers, which are often understaffed themselves.
home health care
Advocates have been calling for changes in the field. They say these jobs are exhausting, with low wages, little respect and little career growth. "We need a complete transformation," one expert says.
President Biden has ordered more than 17 million health care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Some health care employers fear losing large numbers of workers who don't want the shots.
Seniors, their families and states are eager to keep older Americans in their homes and out of nursing homes, but those efforts are often thwarted by worker shortages and low pay.
Despite being hit hard early in the pandemic, New York City lags behind in vaccinating people 65 and older, and its efforts to reach the homebound and disabled have been disorganized.
Wisconsin was already facing a shortage of caregivers who provide crucial health services and help their clients live and work independently. The pandemic has eroded this workforce even more.
A New Jersey woman is facing charges after five members of her patient's household got COVID-19. The aide went to work after taking a coronavirus test and being told to stay home, officials say.
The Trump administration has proposed a rule that would prohibit some home health workers from having union dues deducted from their paychecks. The rule would likely undercut unions' power, all agree.
Some health systems are encouraging selected emergency room patients who are sick but stable and don't need intensive, round-the-clock care to opt for hospital-level care at home, instead.
At least a million more home aides will be needed in the next decade, U.S. statistics suggest. And about a quarter of today's 3 million aides who help older adults avoid nursing homes are immigrants.