As COVID 19 brought senior care and nursing homes into the spotlight, one silver lining is that our elected officials are beginning to understand the value of home care. This is important. Every year, lawmakers create new rules that affect the cost, quality and availability of in home care. Knowing the role that home care plays in our country will hopefully shape those decisions for the better.
Home care growth: more than 1.8 million Americans are currently employed as professional home care workers (or personal care aides, as defined by the Bureau of Labor Statistics). The number of jobs for personal care aides is expected to grow by 26 percent through 2024, compared to just 6.5 percent on average for all other occupations. ⁵
At the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, this vast industry keeping seniors those with disabilities in their homes was essentially ignored. Most resources were focused on hospitals. That was necessary, but it meant that long standing supply chains serving home care and home health were disrupted. Our typical glove delivery stopped appearing, and we paid $74 for a box of gloves on EBay, when normally we pay $9 for that same box.
About a month ago, as more elected leaders and business leaders began to understand that home care was essential, we saw some positive changes. Amazon began prioritizing business accounts related to home nursing. Our typical PPE suppliers started processing our orders again, although with new monthly limits.
Another great result of this new attention on home care is that the main associations that represent the industry joined together, along with experts in fields like infection control and legal compliance. Every other Thursday, thousands of home care managers join a 2 hour webinar to hear about how best to protect clients and employees, where to find supplies, what new laws are being introduced and what regulatory relief is being granted on an emergency basis. This collaboration strengthened the industry and helped us stay open safely.
Several insurance companies and providers, including Medicare, started allowing telehealth visits, a long overdue change. (In California, the California Department of Public Health has not adopted many of the regulatory relief packages passed at the federal level. CAHSAH, our state association for which I sit on the governing board, is working to change that.)
The leaders of several organizations joined together to create this video that highlights the role home care plays in our communities. I invite you to watch it to see how we are working to show the positive role home care plays in helping clients stay safe at home.