As the demand for all types of home health-care workers skyrockets, the supply cannot keep pace, creating a looming national problem, CNBC reported on Tuesday.
"We are on the edge of a crisis," said National Association for Home Care & Hospice President William Dombi.
Dombi, whose Washington-based trade association represents 33,000 home-care and hospice organizations, added that "We are not prepared for what's coming. Our concern is that the demand is going to outstrip the supply unless we see some dynamic changes occur."
In addition to the need for better compensation, benefits, training and advancement opportunities for personal-care aides, Dombi insists that a large part of the problem is that the profession doesn't get the respect it deserves.
"These are workers taking $10-an-hour jobs, often without benefits, to provide services to extremely vulnerable people, doing work that 99.9 percent of the population would like to avoid doing," he said. "There has to be a change in our culture to respect these workers and hold their jobs in high esteem."
Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that last year the median pay of the sector’s workers was $11.12 per hour.
With some states, as well as a growing number of large employers, increasing minimum wages up to $15 per hour, there is now an intensified competition for low-paid workers, especially considering the tight labor market.
Making this even more significant is the fact that federal and state governments set fixed reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid recipients, which effectively caps wages of those working in the field.
Another factor with possible ramifications is President Donald Trump’s anti-immigration agenda. Approximately one-quarter of these workers are currently immigrants, so reducing that labor pool could further intensify the shortage problem.