Home healthcare has been hard to find even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, the turnover rate in home healthcare was 40-60%. People also started to cancel their home health aides, with some worried the illness might spread into their houses. Non-urgent procedures were canceled by hospitals, reducing the number of people who would otherwise require home care. Because many home health care workers work with the elderly, they wanted to do as much as possible to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. A shortage of personal protective equipment has also made the job risky.
Without adequate in-home care, families are stretched thin. Jessica Berger’s daughter Zoey who is autistic, requires around-the-clock monitoring. Without home care, this responsibility falls solely on Berger, who is married and has another daughter. Zoey was also attending school at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, MD. Without this routine, the family says that Zoey has regressed. Autistic people often thrive on routines. Disruption in daily routines can be upsetting to those with autisim and other intellectual disabilties.
Families have other responsibilities, including jobs. Balancing caregiving with a full-time job can be a challenge. More than one-fifth of Americans (21.3 percent) now provide care, having cared for an adult or child with disabilities in the previous 12 months. This brings the overall number of adult caregivers in the United States to 53.0 million, up from 43.5 million in 2015.
Home healthcare workers are hard to find. In part, this is due to low wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PCAs and other home healthcare workers make a mere $13.02 an hour nationwide. According to the New York Times in six states, the average pay is just $11 an hour and one in five home care workers live below the poverty line. According to data provided by Altarum, a nonprofit research and consulting business focused on health care, the number of workers in home health care professions decreased by about 2% nationally in 2020.
Disabled people deserve to live at home. For most disabled people, living at home allows more freedom than living in a long-term care facility. Wages need to increase nationwide so that home health workers are easier to find. Home care workers help keep disabled people and the elderly alive, so they should be paid fairly.
AARP and National Alliance for Caregiving. Caregiving in the United States 2020. Washington, DC: AARP. May 2020. https://doi.org/10.26419/ppi.00103.001
Donovan, Liz, and Muriel Alarcón. “Long Hours, Low Pay, Loneliness and a Booming Industry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/25/business/home-health-aides-industry.html.
“Home Health and Personal Care Aides : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm.
Laughlin, Jason. “A Pandemic Shortage of Home Health Workers Has Left Families Struggling to Find Care.” The Philadelphia Inquirer, 31 Jan. 2022, https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/home-health-care-aide-philadelphia-covid-pandemic-elderly-disabled-seniors-20220131.html.