What happens if your personal care provider doesn't come to work?
The consequences can be dire, according to a new report by the American Association of Retired Person's Public Policy Institute.
The AARP report found that although they provide critical services to millions of Americans, in most states, home care workers typically earn poverty-level wages, lack access to affordable health benefits, receive minimal training, have erratic part-time schedules, and lack advancement opportunities.
The study analyzes the range of strategies that states, localities, and advocates are pursuing to improve personal care workers' wages and benefits.
"These reports are timely, as more and more Americans are receiving personal assistance due to health challenges in their homes," said AARP Arizona State Director David Mitchell. "People prefer to live independently for as long as possible, and home care is often less costly than nursing home care."
The Public Policy Institute report, authored by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, found inadequate backup services and major quality problems in home care.
"Schools have systems for ensuring that substitutes are available to teach our children, but most states are inadequately prepared to provide backup workers when a paid caregiver does not show up," explains Dalmer Hoskins, Managing Director at PPI.
Carol Watts, administrative assistant for the with the PRMC Home Health Care program, said this was not a problem locally.
If all of the professional staff was out for some reason -- and this has not happened -- other nurses or physical therapists would be called to fill in.
States have an array of legislative and regulatory tools that can require agencies to identify gaps and provide backup services like required response times and 24 hour availability. Of equal importance is monitoring the delivery of home care and supporting backup management systems at the local and regional levels.
The complete report can be found by visiting www.aarp.org/ research.