For Older Adults, Home Care Has Become Harder to Find
Its franchise operators employ around 7,000 home helpers, most of whom are over 55 years of age. “We are looking to add 1,000 to 1,500 more caregivers through this program,” said Namrata Yocom-Jan, its president.
In eastern Tennessee, where Ray Bales operates two Seniors Helping Seniors franchises, 11 people applied within a week after announcing $ 200 bonuses on Facebook, he said. He hopes to attract 30 to 40 new workers. (None have objected to funding the company’s philanthropy with $ 50 of their potential bonuses, he said.)
But the bonuses may fail to retain newcomers working in a field with notoriously high turnover – over 80% in 2018, according to the Home Care Association. Since then, the turnover has declined; yet two-thirds of agency workers leave each year.
Some assistants enjoy higher wages in retail, fast food and other industries. Others have turned to self-employment, avoiding middlemen who pocket at least half of what clients pay.
Wendy Gullickson, a licensed practical nurse in Wellfleet, Mass., Only spent a few months as a $ 13 an hour agency worker before she found out she could earn $ 25 as a private assistance – always less than what local agencies charge. (Home care cost an average of $ 23 to $ 24 an hour nationwide last year, but $ 29 to $ 30 in Massachusetts.)
For advocates, therefore, the key to attracting new home care aides is no mystery. “What they need is a competitive salary, as they can earn as much or more in other industries with full-time hours,” said Robert Espinoza, vice president of policy at PHI.
In 2018, the country’s estimated 2.8 million home helpers, mostly women of color and about a third of immigrants, earned an average of $ 12 an hour and $ 17,200 a year. Very few received benefits; more than half depended on food stamps, Medicaid or other public aid.
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